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Drexel Ascend Chapter hosts Lunar New Year event | The Triangle
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Drexel Ascend Chapter hosts Lunar New Year event

On Feb. 15, the Drexel Ascend Chapter in partnership with the Drexel Alumni Department hosted a Lunar New Year celebration at Creese Student Center, for Ascend Greater Philadelphia, allowing Ascend alumni to celebrate the Year of the Dragon and offer some professional wisdom to current members.

“Everyone is from a different background, everyone’s got a different story, I think all of us have a different journey, and we are all in the same place, we all just need to treat each other kindly, and bringing different cultures like this together really makes more sense in helping break the barriers between folks,” said Fanny Chu Fong, executive director of Drexel University’s Alumni Relations. 

The celebration featured a fireside chat on AAPI Philadelphia history between Hon. Ken Wong, president of CIG Asia, Ltd and an Ascend Chapter Advisor, and John Chin, executive director of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation. Joanna Kan ‘00, founder of Blue Story and Ascend Chapter advisor made a keynote speech, and closing remarks were made by Drexel Ascend President Jason Fung, a fifth-year business analytics and management information systems major. 

Behind all these speeches was a large amount of planning to organize and convince the event’s sponsors and speakers to lend their support.

“Alums and sponsors are critical because one, Drexel and Ascend [National] has a strong relationship, they have a chapter here,” Chu Fong added. “Many of the people at Ascend are Drexel alums as well, so it’s really a celebration of all the partnerships that Drexel as part of this community is.” 

The presence of the Drexel Ascend alumni makes the celebration even richer because it gives current Drexel Ascend Chapter members a chance to learn from their co-op experiences and stories.

“My favorite part about this event is getting to hear from the Drexel alums. Ascend, we’re built on the previous generation of Drexel students,” said Mel Tonobanua, a second-year marketing and business analytics major and Ascend’s marketing chair. 

“I met [a former Ascend] president Victor Lam ‘21 a while back, and he told me all about his experiences building [Drexel’s] club, and so getting to hear the Drexel alums’ experiences really allows us to know where they came from and how to improve on that.” 

When it comes to helping students make connections, the Drexel Ascend chapter also prides itself on helping its members with skills like interviewing, networking and resume building, all tools needed to help grow their networks to take them far in their professional careers. 

“My favorite part [about Ascend] is the people I got to meet and work with. Without them, Ascend wouldn’t exist today. This is not a one-man-show,” said Fung. “Everything they’ve helped me accomplish, I’m truly proud of everything we’ve done, and it makes me feel like this is not just an extracurricular or a job, but it really gives me a sense of purpose and responsibility that I can kind of give back to these wonderful people around me.”

With Drexel alumni’s interest in bringing alums to visit and Drexel Ascend’s desire for more career-building opportunities, the two organizations partnered to put on an event that brought new ideas and professional stories to the Drexel Asian American student diaspora for them to learn and grow from.

“[We should] have just as much strength as the dragon does to get through each day, and be happy with what we have, and celebrate each other, and lean on each other. I think, honestly, there are folks who don’t realize how everyone’s like them and look at each other to find similarities rather than differences,” said Chu Fong.

This article is part of a column dedicated to supporting underrepresented Asian student organizations on Drexel University’s campus.