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Asian Alumni Challenge Stereotypes at Inaugural Reunion

“You don’t have to only become a doctor or a lawyer. There are plenty of options to explore,” said author Angela Young Hur ’98, encouraging Asian students to look beyond stereotypes at Phillips Academy’s first-ever Asian and Asian American Alumni Reunion on Saturday. The reunion consisted of small discussion groups, a slideshow depicting a history of Asian Society-sponsored events, student-led tours around campus and a panel of Asian professionals. Aya Murata, Advisor to Asian and Asian-American Students, coordinated the event, which was hosted by the Office of Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD) and the Office of Alumni Affairs. On the panel, which included six panelists who represented different career fields such as film, business, medicine, law, and journalism, alumni discussed issues including Asian culture, racism and how Asian students are perceived at Andover. Panelist Eunice Lee ’86, a lawyer, said, “Andover taught me to be a critical thinker and to be a good student.” At Andover, Lee said she learned to be independent, to have compassion for others and to speak to a wide diversity of people. Panelist Yamini Levitzky ’93, a cardiologist, spoke also about her degree in Russian language and literature. After taking Russian at Andover with Instructor in Russian Victor Svec, she discovered that the language and culture was one of her passions. Levitzky advised students to be open to new experiences. “You never know where [they] will take you,” Levitzky said. Murata said that alumni were drawn to the event because of the chance to connect with students. Eric Liu ’02 said, “It is great to see familiar faces again and also to [see] the new ones of the students.” Sophia Jia ’10 added, “[The alumni] are all really friendly. They’re all very willing to talk to you.” Liu also advised students to not stress out too much about college decisions released earlier in the week. “Not getting into an Ivy League school is definitely not the end of the world,” Liu said. Liu also said that Andover is a “very special place,” stressing the importance of the friendships and connections made at Andover. “Even though my old friends [from Andover] and I all live in different places, we still fly across the country to see each other. The friendships and bonds I have with my old friends are almost stronger than the ones I have with my college friends,” Liu said. In hopes of bringing the Asian alumni together, Murata undertook an extensive planning process. “[The reunion] was an idea that I had been tossing around for a while,” said Murata. Murata based the reunion on a successful African American and Latino alumni reunion that occurred two years ago. Murata said, “[That reunion] gave me a template to work off of, and most importantly, it gave me the confidence that an Asian reunion will work as well.”