“Education and Career Advancement” was the theme of the latest outreach effort from the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Initiative). On Feb. 28 and March 1, Holly Ham, the Initiative’s executive director, brought attention to these high priority issues by visiting Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) educators and students and engaging with corporations in New York City. Ham visited the High School of Economics and Finance (HSEF), where she participated in a roundtable discussion with Michael Stanzione, principal, and AAPI students. HSEF is an academically rigorous public high school offering students business courses and workforce preparation opportunities. Students are given business training, such as job shadowing, internships and mentoring, through HSEF’s partnerships with corporations, including Citi Bank, Deutsche Bank, Etsy, KPMG, and Wells Fargo. First-generation AAPI students at HSEF shared with Ham their academic and career plans, which have been shaped by their experiences with academic instruction and real-world activities in the finance realms.
On Feb. 12, 2019, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders hosted a Lunar New Year Celebration in the Indian Treaty Room at the White House. In attendance were Asian American and Pacific Islander community leaders from across the country and territories, and federal government officials. The event kicked off with senior Trump Administration officials providing welcome remarks and sharing economic and industry priorities, followed by vibrant cultural performances.
In mid-August, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders visited Florida and Georgia to engage with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) technical leaders. We started off by visiting the HSU Educational Foundation to learn about how its staff have engaged with youths, teachers and educators about STEM in Okaloosa County, in northwest Florida. It was particularly interesting to see how the foundation has been able to weave culture and soft skills into STEM activities. The foundation hosted a community convening on STEM Education and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), which included Okaloosa County commissioners, AAPI students and parents, school administrators, representatives from the Okaloosa School District, the Okaloosa Economic Development Council and chambers of commerce, Eglin Air Force Base officials, and industry leaders – all focused on STEM career readiness. Several participants described their models of collaborative, public-private partnerships that aim to engage young students in the STEM concepts and skills that will be necessary to compete for high-demand technology jobs in the future. An eight-year-old student demonstrated her coding skills in operating a drone remotely from software code that she wrote on her computer. Executive Director Holly Ham shared the Initiative’s work on STEM, its engagement with the State-Federal STEM Summit and the development of the 2018 Five-Year STEM Strategic Plan. It was a vibrant gathering of a small, strong community that is closely knit by its vision and desire to work collaboratively for the continued development and improvement of Okaloosa’s economic and workforce future.