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New club looks to support Asian-American students

Mark+Armao%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AWilson+Kong+is+the+founder+and+president+of+a+new+club+intended+to+help+Asian+Americans+reach+their+full+potential+in+the+fields+of+science+and+engineering.
Mark Armao/ The Daily WIldcat
Mark Armao/ The Daily Wildcat Wilson Kong is the founder and president of a new club intended to help Asian Americans reach their full potential in the fields of science and engineering.

A new club on campus will focus on helping Asian-American students achieve their full potential in the fields of science and engineering.

UA’s Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers was recognized by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona earlier this month and is in the process of seeking chapter recognition from
the national organization.

Wilson Kong, founder and president of the club, said that although he and the other members are still ironing out the details, the purpose of the club is clear.

“[The club] is intended to allow people of Asian-American heritage to advance in the professional world,” Kong said.

Despite the relatively high college acceptance rates and academic success among Asian-American students, Kong said that a “bamboo ceiling” exists, making it difficult for them to advance in their respective industries.

“There are a lot of statistics that show that, while we typically perform well in school, not a lot of us rise to upper management or very high leadership positions,” he said.

To help students avoid that fate, the club will offer various opportunities and services, including resume workshops and talks by industry professionals. All the activities of the club will be geared toward developing members’ professional skills as well as helping them connect with their peers and professionals, Kong said.

Kong added that SASE will also be involved in outreach programs in which members will go to local high schools and middle schools to encourage younger people to pursue careers in science, engineering, technology or math.

With clubs on campus for both Hispanic and black engineering students, many Asian students in science and engineering majors felt underrepresented, said Supapan Seraphin, a professor in the department of materials science and engineering who is the faculty adviser for the club.

Seraphin said that it will be beneficial for the SASE members to interact with students from similar cultures because they can relate to the challenges faced by one another.

For example, Seraphin said that many Asian-American students feel added pressure from “super-high expectations” placed on them by their parents.

“There is often more importance placed on achievements than the pursuit of happiness,” Seraphin said.

While the new club will encourage professional achievement, it’s really about establishing a sense of community among the Asian-American science and engineering students at the UA, said Rohit Uprety, a chemical engineering junior who is vice president of the club.

“I look forward to providing an environment where students can come by and be able to strengthen their professional and academic skills,” Uprety said, “and, of course, meet peers and be involved in a club.”

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