Times are ‘changing!
Harvard Asian-American alumni from around the world are slated to fly to Cambridge this fall for the first-ever Harvard Asian American Alumni Summit, an event sponsored by the Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance.
The summit, which is scheduled to run from Oct. 15 to 17, aims to bring together Asian-American alumni, faculty, students, and staff from Harvard’s schools for a weekend of panel discussions, networking events, and informal social gatherings.
Among the scheduled speakers at the event are University President Drew G. Faust and William F. Lee ’72, the first Asian-American to be elected to the Harvard Corporation.
The summit’s main event will be the 2010 Elevate Pitch Competition, which will invite alumni, students, and faculty to pitch “game-changing ideas” demonstrating creativity, innovation, or potential for social change before a panel of judges. Three successful pitches will each win $2,500 cash prizes.
According to summit co-chair Jeannie Park ’83, the event grew out of efforts by several Harvard graduates who took issue with the lack of Asian alumni involved in reunion events.
Jeff C. Yang ’89, Park’s co-chair, said he found it surprising that although Asian-American students constitutute the largest ethnic minority group on campus, Asian-American alumni have historically been less involved in giving back to the University.
He added that his generation, born in the late ’60s, was the first to reach adulthood and start thinking about their legacy after caps on Asian immigration were lifted.
“We are not just thinking about ourselves, but in a larger sense regarding what Harvard means for ourselves and our community,” he said.
During the summer of 2008, Park—the former executive editor of People magazine and founding president of the New York chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association—met up with fellow journalists Yang and Jennifer 8. Lee ’99, a former Crimson vice president, when they began planning for what would become the summit.
As networks expanded, what started out as a half-day Saturday luncheon evolved into a full three-day affair.
Melissa Lee ’95—the host of CNBC’s Fast Money and a member of the Elevate Pitch Competition judging panel, who was also a Crimson associate managing editor—said that encouraging entrepreneurship is especially important for Asian Americans, who often come from households in which creativity is not emphasized.
“I hope [the competition] encourages them to think outside the box for themselves and for their careers,” she said.
Other notable Elevate Pitch Competition panel judges include the head writer of “The Office” and the president of AOL Media.
— Written by Adrienne Y. Lee. Thanks Adrienne!