HomeChinese AmericanFirst Person: Fitting in with a dual identity

First Person: Fitting in with a dual identity

By Angelina Fung

“That’s a loaded question” is my typical answer if asked where I’m from. Having grown up splitting my time between Hong Kong and the U.S., I’ve always felt a duality in my identity.

I was born in Houston, then moved to Hong Kong for a while before returning to the US for high school to prepare for college. Living a global lifestyle, I still felt an in-between feeling compared to my friends who lived somewhere their whole life. Little things like not knowing about movie or tv show references left me feeling unsure if I belonged as an Asian American.  

Surprisingly, what brought me closer to my Asian American community was my job.

When I first chose to pursue finance as a career, I was the first in my family to decide to go down this path. My parents, small business owners who did not attend college, worried as parents often do. “Your undergraduate degree was not in Finance—are you sure you are equipped for this world?” or “What’re the hours like? Will you be getting enough sleep or will you have enough time to eat?” were just a few of their recurring concerns.

Looking around a massive trading floor on my first day on the job, I worried that my parents were right. In a room of young and hungry college graduates like me, I was one of very few women, and fewer Asian Americans.

As many of you might relate, we were always told to put our head down and work hard and success will follow. While the idea of hard work continues to hold true, success does not just appear out of thin air without being in the right places or talking to the right people. And after that first day, I knew I would have to continue to chart my own path.

What helped me forge ahead was the community and network built into my firm’s many employee network groups. The ERG helped younger professionals like myself adapt to the pace, the intensity and the complexity in navigating through the corporate world. And the more veteran Asian American professionals helped coach me though many issues. Through my proactivity to connect with panelists after each event, and seeking to identify as many Asian American role models within the firm, I met many whose stories I could relate to.

I realized the in-between feeling I often felt was in fact, an asset, and something that the AAPI community has long embraced. Our community is strong because, not in spite of, our diversity.

Through connecting with great mentors who took an interest in me as a young and passionate AAPI professional, I have already learned so much in a few short years. I have also become deeply involved with the diversity and inclusion work in our firm, in the industry, and in my local community. It is because of my AAPI community and mentors that have supported my dreams and ambitions that I now know I have a place in the room and a seat at the table.

About the Author: Angelina Fung works for the finance firm, UBS.

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