Alumni Stories - Tuan Do
Let me tell you about some of the best years of my life. After growing up and attending school in the Sacramento region, I decided to move down to Southern California in 2006. As a kid, my dream was to live in “SoCal” and be in the thick of the action as depicted by Hollywood. Knowing only two friends in the area I got involved with APEX in hopes to meet people and get involved with the Asian Pacific Islander American community. I first volunteered for the Gala committee and soon became the Director of Special Events the following two years. In my third year on the board, I became the Vice President of Programs. I remember thinking to myself that being vice president would be the highest position I would want to be on APEX and that three years on the board would be enough for me. I met a lot of great friends and contacts in the community and I didn’t feel the need to continue APEX anymore. All through my life I was happy being second in command and staying in the background instead of being in the spotlight. Being vice president was good enough for me.
Then I remember having a brief conversation with my former boss, John Chiang, who was the State Controller at the time. APEX was going to honor him with an award at the gala (my idea) and when I presented our invitation to John he asked me bluntly if I was going to look to become APEX President next. I had no answer for him at the time because I wasn’t thinking of continuing my term on the APEX board past the current year. His direct question to me made me think about the possibilities of becoming APEX President and how I would be as a leader. Like I said before, I never thought of being the top person in an organization and have always thought being the support person. I remember being in college and I was given the opportunity to become president of a cultural club but I turned it down and took a supporting role instead. The question that John Chiang asked me made me realize that leaders like him always look to be number one. To be a leader, you have to aspire to be the top person and not be afraid to stick your neck out there with the possibility of failing. This is something I have never done. Growing up my parents taught me to play it safe which meant not taking risks. But, I decided that this was my time to make the jump. This was my time to take the next step.
With the help and support of my wonderful friends and board members, I became the 2010 and 2011 APEX President. During my two years as president, we were able to accomplish many programs and outreach efforts to the Southern California community. My confidence as being a leader soared as the organization had tremendous success and gained recognition in the community. I learned what my strengths and weakness were and challenged myself to improve. I found my leadership voice and leadership style. I understood how to motivate board members to work hard for a common cause without monetary compensation. Under my leadership, we worked hard to understand what our members needed and tried to deliver effective programs and services to them while adhering to our mission goals of providing professional development, community service and cultural awareness. I enjoyed being at the head of APEX and working alongside such wonderful team members and friends. I asked myself, “Why haven’t I stepped up before?” I guess it wasn’t my time yet. Being on APEX was the right time. Being APEX President was my destiny.
Looking back on my seven years on APEX, I gained invaluable leadership experiences and skills. I gained confidence in myself and in my abilities. Most of all, I gained lifelong friends that I truly feel comfortable with. My most important take away for getting involved with this organization are the friendships and experiences that came out of joining APEX. The board members, members and volunteers on APEX became my friends. They became my brothers and sisters. They became my family.
Now as an alumnus, whenever someone asks me about APEX my eyes light up and there’s a grin on my face. I’ll never forget some of the best years of my life. Go APEX!
Connect with Tuan at http://www.linkedin.com/in/mrtuando