Embracing My Self-Identity II

By: David

As the annual Midwest Asian American Student Union (MAASU) conference approaches in nearly a few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about my experiences as an Asian Pacific American student here on campus. It was about this time around last year when I began thinking about this and wrote, “Embracing My Self-Identity in the Workplace” following the MAASU conference. After a full year, I now want to express and write about what I have done since last year to better understand, embrace, and express my identity as an Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA).

To begin, after last year’s Spring conference I went through a state of personal identity crisis and wanted to learn more about my heritage and culture as an APIA as I lacked a lot of knowledge of my own roots. As I began to learn more and more about myself and my racial identity through following several non-profit organizations on social media, it began to shape my perspective on certain issues and topics. Meanwhile, the more I learned about my racial identity, the stronger my confidence in expressing myself in an authentic manner increased. As an underrepresented student, I began to realize the importance of incorporating my differences and how valuable it is to do so in any environment.  

The most impactful experience that I have had pertaining to this would be my current executive position. As the current President for Asian Pacific American Association (APAA), I have been very fortunate to be in an environment that is constantly dedicated to Asian Pacific American issues and topics. My main focus and dedication for the organization was educating people on APIA topics and creating awareness. As I worked with six of my colleagues/board members, we made sure to consistently highlight topics that were not getting enough attention like APIAs in the media and microaggressions. One of my main goals as the head of the organization was to hopefully enlighten my members and get them to a place where they could appreciate and embrace their personal identity whether or not it was related to the APIA identity. Though my efforts were primarily dedicated to the organization and members I realized that the harder I tried the more I began to understand how this affected me as an individual in the sense that I came to understand my own identity a bit more. Through the research, discussions, and teaching, I learned about my own identity more than I would have ever imagined and with this knowledge my perspective on life has morphed drastically.


My beloved organization, Asian Pacific American Association (APAA) at UMD

Furthermore, one key concept I learned from this journey so far is applying my knowledge and passion. With such great passion towards my self-identity I have incorporated it into several aspects of life in subtle ways since last year. One way that I have done this is highlighting my experiences in my resume and LinkedIn. In my professional profiles, I try my best to not downplay any of my experiences in APAA because to me, it holds a deep meaning and I want employers to know that I am passionate about issues that pertain to my identity.


Current LinkedIn profile

By reflecting on my journey so far throughout the year, I have come to realize the growth in myself and impact on others. By understanding my inner-identity and how it all intersects with one another (Asian Pacific American, Straight, Male, College Student, etc.), it gives me a better understanding as to how I can use these privileges to advocate for equality. As the MAASU conference approaches in nearly 48 hours, I am extremely excited for my members, organization, and self to learn more about ourselves and how we can use our knowledge to continuously promote diversity and inclusivity!  

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Embracing My Self-Identity in the Workplace

By: David

As a first generation Asian American student, I’ve had the joy and struggle of fulfilling the famous slogan, “East meets West.” I say this because I constantly see the world from various different perspectives due to my Asian culture background and American societal upbringing. The tug-of-war between both cultures has allowed me to see certain issues and topics with an open mind. A common theme that I have come to realize about myself is that I don’t embrace and express my self-identity enough in the workplace. After returning from a student leadership conference, MAASU (Midwest Asian American Student Union), I have been very passionate and motivated to have myself and others to understand what it means to acknowledge their inner identity.


In the past, and even still today, I have always been hesitant to express my personal identity, specifically cultural identity. The notion of potentially being judged or criticized for having a different perspective is dismaying especially in a professional environment. Though I find it fascinating and productive when people are able to express their self-identity, I, myself still lack the ability to do the same. After my enlightening experience from MAASU, I have come to realize the importance of embracing and expressing personal identity. The importance lies within the aspect of diversity (which will be discussed another time). The two concepts, self-identity and diversity coincide with one another in the sense that self-identity brings new and different ideas to the table because of the different perspectives and background knowledge that individuals bring forth which creates a diverse environment in the workplace.

Personal identity is an important concept because it comes up in many different areas in our lives. In terms of the workplace, it’s important to express one’s identity so that everyone can thrive in a diverse environment. To embrace and express oneself will always be a difficult thing to do under societal circumstances. Personally, I currently have the feeling of excitement as it feels that I have started a new adventure for myself.  As an Asian American, I feel very passionate and motivated to entirely embrace and express who I am as an individual and the identity that coexists with it. Stick around as I will be highlighting my learning experiences as I begin to incorporate my identity into my professional career. As always, stay gold my friends!

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Photo Source: Gaylmzhan Abdugalimov|Unsplash