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How My AAPI Identity Shapes My Leadership

Members of Yale SOM’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) student community share their reflections in recognition of AAPI Heritage Month.

Cathy An

My identity has a huge impact on how I live my life and conduct myself in social settings and within the workplace. I recognize the disproportionate representation of Asian women in leadership positions, and so as I re-enter the workspace, I hope to use the immense opportunities afforded to me to uplift and enable other minorities to succeed as well.  
—Cathy An ’22

Siddharth Gandhi

My identity has helped me to become a more empathetic leader and team member. Given that Asian identity is rarely the focus of diversity initiatives, it helped me become more aware of the fact that it often requires conscious effort to understand the perspectives and challenges of those around us. 
—Siddharth Gandhi ’23

Diane Jiang

My identity has helped me to be empathetic of others when considering decisions that would lead to the strongest impact for our community.
—Diane Jiang ’23

Maria Jiang

My identity shapes the lens through which I view the world and choose to act. It affects my awareness of what it means to be a minority and the existence of disproportionate representation and power. It encourages me to act on these indifferences and get actively involved with community looking to effect change.
—Maria Jiang ’23, joint-degree candidate with the School of the Environment

Nikki Whang

I think my identity has shaped how I lead in every sense because I have come to understand that I will always be seen, first and foremost, as an Asian American woman in whatever setting I enter. When I was younger, navigating this difference was difficult and occasionally painful; I did not understand what it meant to be an Asian American in a White world. However, over many conversations with friends/mentors/confidantes, a lot of self-reflection, and a healthy dose of angsty art projects, I have come to better understand how my identity shapes how I lead. Being an Asian American, second- and a half-generation (a nickname I’ve come to since my parents came to the U.S. when they were young and are very assimilated to America), and a woman are all parts of my identity that make me stronger. My experiences have shaped how I empathize with those I work with, how I can relate to people who are different from myself, and how I can bring people together to achieve our common goal.
—Nikki Whang ’22