When Emily Chan was 16, she wrote a poem about her own everyday hero — her mother. In that poem, Emily described her mother’s daily life as an immigrant and single mother, who took courses in the evening and whose body ached from her long days working at a Chinese restaurant. As she watched her mother struggle, Emily vowed to herself that if she was ever in the position to lend a hand to others, she would do so.
Emily is now a personal wealth manager at a large financial institution in San Francisco. She has found her own way to help young Asian Americans. Through her own summer internship program for Asian American students, Emily helps them get a foot in the door of an elite – and often elitist – industry.
The idea for this program came about when Emily met an MBA student at a conference who spoke about the difficulties of landing an internship in the finance sector. Emily took the student under her wings and gave her an internship at her institution. The interns mentored by Emily have appreciated her help to navigate a new field, and also her encouragement to find their true passion.
Emily hopes her interns become future leaders. She also implores them, as her past professors and mentors did, to ask themselves what they really want to do with their lives, to discover who they are, and to take ownership of that.
“I tell my interns to really find what they love. Something that they can also make a living out of as well,” she explains.
Emily has already witnessed the growth and development her interns have undergone, and many of them land positions in the finance industry upon their graduation. In the end, Emily hopes that interns will follow in her footsteps and give back to others, whether through mentoring, or by offering their service to others in the community who would benefit from their support.
Everyday Heroes is a column about Asian American volunteers – people who have a full-time day job, but still make time to give back to their community. These are the unsung everyday heroes. We want to highlight these Asian Americans who make life better for other people every day, but expect nothing back in return, except perhaps a smile.
This column will rotate to different parts of the country. In our Winter 2013 issue, we went to the San Francisco Bay Area. There, we met four volunteers whose relentless efforts are making a difference in their local communities, in their own unique way, every day.