“Your voices count as do your visions....This evening is a wonderful occasion to recognize and celebrate the leadership and achievement of the Asian Pacific American community” said US Secretary of Transportation at the annual ILF conference and gala.
This past Thursday (July 19th) was the 2018 Leadership and Business Conference Scholarship Awards Gala, which was hosted in Washington, DC by the International Leadership Foundation (ILF). The ILF was founded in 2000 to create greater diversity in the country’s representation and promote young Asian and Pacific American leaders in public service and business. Each year, leaders from around the nation gather in Washington DC to attend the annual conference and gala. The event recognizes leaders who are selfless and proactive among other character traits that demonstrate their strong leadership skills and charitable acts towards the community. Those that are recognized are seen as the Next Gen Leaders who will help further the mission of the ILF.
Co-founder of Veritas Education Leaders, Dr. Yuhsien Wu attended the ILF conference and gala this year. During this prestigious event, she met and talked with many public service and business leaders. An exciting moment was when Dr. Wu reconnected with Maryland senator Susan Lee, who believed in BranchOut from the very first day. Her support has helped BranchOut expand from the meager number of 20 mentors in the beginning to almost 100 mentors now. During BranchOut’s first opening ceremony, back in 2016, Senator Lee came all the way to Virginia and gave a speech on the tremendous impact BranchOut would have on the community, and the aspects of the program made it so special. Certain things about BranchOut that attracted the attention of Senator Lee were Asian Americans impacting the community in a positive way through teaching STEM and other related knowledge to the underprivileged, and female leaders guiding the program, such as Dr. Wu. Another great moment that happened at the gala was Dr. Wu “branching out” and finding new supporters, such as Maryland state delegate Clarence Lam. Delegate Lam was very intrigued by BranchOut and has offered his help to the program.
Many important leaders from all over the nation came to speak at the conference. One important speech given was from the US Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao. She discussed the impact of Asian Pacific Americans on the economy, in the community, in public service, and in education. Secretary Chao talked about Asian Pacific Americans taking a lead in their community, and making their contributions known to the rest of the US population. Additionally, she talked about helping the underserved in the community and creating new opportunities for those that are underprivileged in the community. These are all vital for the future success of America. BranchOut falls into all the categories Secretary Chao discussed, as mentors with strong STEM backgrounds help those in their community who do not have the opportunity to explore the STEM field. The program focuses strongly on developing strong mentor-mentee relationships and helping the underprivileged develop a love for learning and STEM. Secretary Chao also mentioned how an astonishing 7% of the United States population is Asian Pacific American. She states that as the Asian Pacific American population continues to grow, it is crucial that their voices and visions are heard, and their hard work does not go unnoticed.
All in all, the ILF gala was an extremely successful event. Not only was Dr. Wu able to reconnect with old supporters of BranchOut, but she was also able to “branch out” and find new supporters. Furthermore, BranchOut is a perfect example of Asian Pacific Americans taking action in their community and helping the disadvantaged, something Secretary Chao likes seeing. With the encouragement and support BranchOut is receiving, things are looking bright for this outstanding program.
Dr. Wu with Senator Susan Lee, a strong supporter of BranchOut!
US Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao gives an important speech about the positive impact of Asian Pacific Americans in US society
Secretary Elaine Chao at the conference