The International Leadership Foundation (ILF) was pleased to welcome its 2017 class of Civic Fellows at the Fellowship Program Orientation this past Saturday, June 3, 2017 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. After orientation, the Fellows participated in the program’s inaugural Welcome Dinner and career networking, where they met and interacted with distinguished dignitaries from the International Trade Administration in U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“In my opinion, the most exciting aspect of the ILF Civic Fellowship program is absolutely the opportunity to meet and talk to so many young, driven Asian Americans in one setting,” said 2017 ILF Civic Fellow and New York University student Hank Wu. “I particularly enjoyed the initial welcome dinner because I was able to meaningfully discuss business, politics, and even life itself with a group of people that cares about these topics as much as I do. In many ways, the high energy environment that ILF facilitates for its civic fellows is its greatest asset.”
This year’s cohort is comprised of 32 astute and ethnically diverse students from over 20 distinguished colleges and universities across the nation. The Fellows will intern across 25 offices within nine federal agencies and four offices at the U.S. Congress. Each Fellow will serve an 8-week tour of duty and participate in educational seminars to develop a deeper understanding of public service and policy.
“I am grateful and excited for the opportunities that the ILF program presents. ILF’s mission to empower the AAPI community is inspiring and resonates with me as I passionately believe that the voices of the AAPI community need to be heard,” said 2017 ILF Civic Fellow and University of Southern California student Kathryn Jian.” “During orientation and the welcome dinner, we were able to learn more specifically what this program encompasses. I think it is important as young people to understand how our government is working and how we can change things for the future. Being able to create our own policy agendas seems like an effective, hands-on experience and I appreciate the opportunity to be able to share our own ideas. I am looking forward to learning and growing through this internship!”
Started in 2000 with just six Fellows, the ILF Civic Fellowship program has since grown and provided internship placements and scholarships to over 400 alumni, with approximately 30 students in every summer class. This year, ILF is continuing its implementation of the ILF Fellow alumni e-mentors, who will provide guidance to the Fellows over the course of the program.
Executive Director Soo Kyung Koo said, “I’m extremely excited to meet with students who have leadership potential and passion for public service and community development. The ILF Civic Fellowship program and its civic leadership training will make them emerging young leaders and future policy makers at the end of this summer. The ILF team will also connect them to leaders and key players in D.C. so they can forge their legacy and expand their horizons. Today, as part of the orientation, they are mentored by government officials from four different agencies about career paths in public service and each federal office’s mission.”
Other 2017 ILF Fellows have had the following to say about their experience so far:
“I decided to be a part of ILF this summer because I saw the need for more AAPI representation in the government and the public sector. I hope to learn from current AAPI leaders in government and to develop more skills to strengthen my leadership and ability to represent AAPIs in our communities. I am looking forward to more opportunities to learn, reflect, and grow! Orientation and the Welcome Dinner were great opportunities to become more oriented about the current AAPI representation in the public sector here in D.C. and to learn about the past, present, and future of ILF. I am very grateful for all the work and passion that ILF puts into fostering future AAPIs leaders.” –Jin Mi Sohn, Middlebury College
” I value this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work in the Department of Treasury provided by ILF because not many people, especially as a college rising sophomore, can work in a program that collects over 12 billions dollars annually. I also value the connections I will be making with the fellows. I believe the orientation and the welcome dinner were very helpful for me to get to know all the fellows and to get prepared for all the opportunities in front of me. Thank you!” –Yijun “Tom” Feng, New York University
“I am looking forward to the opportunities given to me as an ILF Fellow to meet more leaders and possible mentors within the D.C. public service community. I enjoyed meeting the ILF staff and the other 2017 Fellows during orientation and getting to know them better over dinner. I feel that this experience overall will help me get a better idea of what I want to do in the future, while being part of a great community.” –Neha Manu, University of Virginia
“The ILF program orientation was a helpful introduction to an engaging and fruitful summer in D.C. Meeting the ILF staff and other Fellows was an exciting opportunity to reflect on my own personal and professional goals for this summer, and I am excited to immerse myself in the processes of decision-making that unfold in the nation’s capital.” –Ryan Lee, Brown University
“Through ILF, I hope to gain the critical analytical and leadership tools needed to address gaping needs in the Asian American community not just at home, but throughout the United States. Through the orientation day and the welcome dinner, ILF has pushed me to a great start in that regard: I have met with leading AAPI civil servants who have dedicated their lives to serving the needs of others, and I have obtained tools necessary for me to pursue my D.C. goals.” –Kion You, Brown University
“I’ve enjoyed the in-depth discussions with experienced individuals in Washington, D.C that we’ve met either at the orientation, Welcome Dinner, or other ILF events. Their insights were extremely helpful in not only allowing us to explore different opportunities in public service, but also in providing a means which to go forward with concrete goals we might have for the public good. I look forward to the policy project and other ILF events in the coming summer.” –Angela He, Washington University in St. Louis
“When I met my fellow ILF cohort members for the first time at our orientation and welcome dinner, I was able to be part of a comfortable space where AAPIs talked about politics, dream careers, and individual passions. It was both exciting and empowering, and it still continues to be. Throughout this fellowship, I hope to improve my leadership skills, learn more about policies through my own research and our federal policy project, and learn how I can engage more AAPIs to enter fields that lack their representation. ” –Na-Yeon Park, Rutgers University
“Although I came in a week late and was not able to attend Orientation or the Welcome Dinner, I’m hoping to network with other fellows and appreciate the opportunity I have been provided to connect with great professionals, key players, and awesome leaders in D.C. Getting the chance to meet with mentors and supervisors within my department allowed me to realize that public service incorporates a lot of people with different backgrounds and interests and range of career paths. This definitely has catapulted and contributed to my plan of possible career goals.” –Florrie Li, University of Washington
“When I was accepted into ILF, I thought to myself about the type of experiences I would immerse myself in and what I would think back on in 10, 20, or 40 years. Since arriving in DC, I feel like I will walk away with new connections, new values, and new opportunities that were hidden to me before. On this journey, ILF will help me along that way by connecting me with environments that will challenge me to grow as well as mature the values I hold close to myself.” –Benjamin Soong, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
“ILF launched us right into orientation with a diverse set of peers and capped the evening off with an informative welcome dinner among public service professionals. I fully intend to work in D.C. upon graduation, and I look forward to ILF’s upcoming professional development events throughout this summer.” –So Jung Kim, University of Michigan
“From the very start, our mentors have been looking out for us. Not only have they helped us find internships within federal agencies, but they have also shared their invaluable knowledge and perspective with us. Furthermore, I’ve found great opportunities to connect with DC insiders, which has been an incredibly educational experience. I’m looking forward to better understanding our federal government and how we can effectively act within its framework. I have no doubt that I will emerge from ILF’s civic fellowship program a stronger and more experienced leader.” –Alexander Li, University of California, Berkeley
“As a current ILF Fellow, I feel confident moving forward in my career goals of eventually serving in government. ILF directly connected me with important government officials and key individuals through events, such as our Welcome Dinner. Orientation was thorough, yet succinct, and helped me prepare for an internship in DC. The Welcome Dinner was a wonderful chance to not only meet government officials, but also get to know my fellow cohort as well.” –Megha Torpunuri, University of California, Berkeley
Along with its yearly commitments to managing and enhancing the Fellowship Program, ILF has maintained its partnership with other leading D.C. Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) organizations, sponsoring another 120 college students in similar leadership training programs. The strength of the Civic Fellowship Program continues to affirm ILF’s mission in facilitating AANHPI leadership development and its constitutive presence among the sweeping changes occurring across the U.S. and the world.
Founded in 2000, the International Leadership Foundation (ILF) has promoted the civic awareness, public service, and economic prosperity of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community as a non-profit organization. ILF cultivates young leaders in the United States, Asia, and Pacific Rim countries in various professional fields especially in public affairs through support from ILF’s own national network of business and community leaders across 15 cities in the U.S. and abroad. For more information on ILF and the Civic Fellowship Program, please visit www.ilfnational.org.