2020 INSPIRE AWARD WINNERS

Most Improved Chapter

California State University Long Beach

Within just two years of establishing a chapter at California State University, Long Beach our chapter has not only flourished but has also been able to aid in academic, professional, and leadership success. From increasing our membership by and retaining these members tenfold between our first and second year, to hosting the West Regional Conference in just our second year of being a chapter, CSULB SASE has worked diligently to serve our campus community. By putting our students’ needs at the forefront, meaning taking care of each other academically, mentally, and emotionally we have been able to build a family and bond with each other and our members. This has carried into all activities that we have accomplished. On top of that, we try and maintain good relationships with our sister chapters in the area, and in turn we try and support each other as much as we can!

Most Improved Chapter Honorable Mention

Boston University

Since its inception in 2010, SASE at Boston University has always been committed to empowering Asian American professionals by upholding the three pillars. The chapter is thrilled with the growth we’ve seen in the past year which has set a strong foundation for the uncertain future moving forward. We have received an influx of 63 new members over the course of the academic year. Our mentorship program has maintained such sustained interest and divided our members into smaller, more close-knit mentor-mentee groups to help each other socially and professionally. Our events included several professional development events, in collaboration with organizations and companies in the Greater Boston area, that helped our general members improve their networking skills and learn how to resolve workplace conflicts. We are very proud of our turnout rate at the professional conferences as we were able to send 10 and 30 representatives to SASE Nationals and SASE Northeast Regionals respectively. We spearheaded our Thai Tea and Rose fundraisers as a medium to celebrate Asian heritage and spread positivity. We strengthened relationships with fellow chapters like Northeastern SASE through a joint volunteering venture in restoration and cleanliness at the Franklin Park Zoo. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic put life at a standstill, our chapter remained regularly in touch with our general members with daily check-ins and weekly virtual chats.

We believe the key to such success stems from the quality of your communication with your members. It’s important not only to remain spirited in pursuit of high-reaching goals but also to remember the members at the heart of those pursuits. The unpredictable future created by the COVID-19 pandemic warrants a steadfast drive to nurture a culture where your chapters’ members can raise their voices fearlessly and overcome the limits set by every obstacle on the road to success.

Most Influential Chapter

University of Minnesota

SASE UMN holds the utmost highest standards of upholding SASE’s three pillars. We strive to make conscious improvements in our representation of each pillar. This year, SASE UMN saw the potential that collaborating with other cultural and professional student groups had in celebrating the diversity of Asian heritage not only in the College of Science and Engineering, but within the entire campus itself. We collaborated with 7 different student organizations to provide a unique variety of experiences for our general members. SASE UMN also recognizes the importance of professional development, and this year, we focused on providing vast networking opportunities for our members. We hosted the Spring Career Fair for the College of Science and Engineering (CSE), establishing a connection with CSE as well as introducing a large network of over 150 companies for our members. We also hosted a Women in STEM panel highlighting professionals and professors, in which we won the Tin Man Award for Outstanding Student Group Event. Finally, SASE UMN strives to strengthen our vision for philanthropy by giving back as much as we can. In total, we have volunteered a total of over 100 hours to local organizations, donated 58 pounds of food and supplies to charities, and raised $3500 to donate to charities amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Much of our success and accomplishments could not have been done without the hard work of our board members, our diverse community of general members, and most importantly, the unique connections we make. We hold importance in establishing meaningful relationships in both the professional and cultural sense. SASE UMN is humbled and incredibly grateful to behonored for our efforts to uphold SASE’s vision. With the utmost passion, we will continue to work hard to strengthen our impact within the community, region, and nation.

Most Influential Chapter Honorable Mention

University of Florida

The University of Florida (UF) chapter of the Society of Asian Scientists & Engineers (SASE) is proud to produce remarkable leaders every year and as the recipient of the Honorable Mention for Most Influential Chapter for the 2020 Inspire Awards, the UF chapter knew that everything this year had to be done better: the events, the interactions, and especially, the mindset. From mentoring programs to professional development to philanthropic endeavors, this organization strives to create well-rounded and strong-minded individuals that can serve as leaders no matter the workplace. This organization firmly believes in quality over quantity and having chemistry between its board and members that is unlike no other. Andrew Carnegie said the following quote that inspires the advice UF SASE wishes to offer, “If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes.” For new chapters, UF SASE advises to always think big, because attitude is what determines altitude. This year UF SASE learned what it really means to “jump” because new altitudes cannot be reached until both feet are completely off the ground from where one was originally standing. Success is only achieved by taking risks. Finding the balance between what has always been done vs. what more can be done defines where that ceiling lies. UF SASE tells new chapters to trust your team and let them be creative in their position because this creativity will allow your chapter to imagine ideas to new depths that you, as its leaders, could never have envisioned.

Most Philanthropic Chapter

University of California, Santa Barbara

Since our establishment as a chapter in 2015, SASE UCSB has grown exponentially in terms of members, event reach, and presence. Through hosting annual events such as our Industry Mixer and Faculty Panel as well as hosting regular general body meetings, professional workshops, socials, and study sessions, we have become a well-established chapter on our campus and in SASE. A strong sense of friendship is reflected in the event SASE UCSB organizes for our members and we focus on providing our members with professional development and academic support while also maintaining a strong foundation of social and service activities. At the beginning, SASE UCSB initially struggled with developing a stronger campus presence compared to other long-established STEM organizations. However, through club collaborations and by dedicating the time to form and strengthen relationships with companies and non-profit organizations, SASE UCSB has become a prominent STEM organization within UCSB and an organization industry professionals are eager to collaborate with. Concurrently, SASE UCSB was able to form a presence in the SASE community by establishing a tight-knit network with both SASE Nationals and other chapters during conferences and regional socials. These close relationships not only fostered friendships, but also provided ways for SASE UCSB to learn from and offer advice to other chapters and to truly grow as an organization. As SASE UCSB has expanded, we have learned that the most important aspect of a successful chapter is the personal relationships cultivated through socials, conferences, and other events. We have cultivated SASE UCSB as more than just another professional organization - instead, it is an interwoven web of friends and family. By creating this unique environment, SASE UCSB has been able to connect with students on a deeper level and ensure that our chapter continues to grow with each passing year towards new heights."

Most Philanthropic Chapter Honorable Mention

Stevens Institute of Technology

Since its founding in 2012, SASE Stevens has always dedicated itself to be the best chapter it could be and to fully support our members in reaching their full career potential. Through biweekly general body meetings and monthly events, the chapter focuses on fulfilling the three core pillars of SASE in providing opportunities for our members to develop their professional skills, give back to their community and embrace the cultural diversity on campus. Our general body meetings can span from an informational presentation about professional attire to an alumni panel about career fairs to a fireside chat about the Asian-American community and xenophobia. Year after year, the executive board devotes countless hours towards steering high-quality programming with the growth of not only our members but the organization as a whole, in mind. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic, our chapter has made it a priority to fulfill our purpose and continued to push forth initiatives and events.

From a small, but dedicated group of students, to one of the largest active membership bases in the region, Stevens SASE now stands as one of the veteran chapters in the Northeast region. Our advice for being a successful chapter is to create a healthy, supportive atmosphere for members to grow and to think innovatively to bring new ideas. The strength in our chapter\ lies within our community. We want to make every member feel like they are part of a large family. As our chapter continues to grow, we hope to solidify ourselves as an exemplary organization for other chapters.

Outstanding New Chapter

University of Kansas (KU)

SASE KU was recently established at The University of Kansas and was the first chapter in Kansas. Being the first year, SASE KU has put tremendous effort to define an organizational structure, branding, and focus. Within a month, the chapter has quickly grown to a total of 60 members with roughly 25 active members. Throughout the year, SASE-KU has hosted a total of 9 workshops and events such as career fair preparation, industry speakers, EducAsian, Indomie night, study-game nights, and many more. There was a total of 270+ participants in these events, making a great impact on the general members on their professional development and Asian cultural awareness. Additionally, SASE-KU members are heavily involved in the local community by volunteering a total of 50 hours at school festivals, recruiting events, and football concessions. The chapter connected strongly with SASE Midwest Regional and SASE National by sending 10 members to the Regional Conference and fully participated in SASE National monthly events and activities. Starting as a new chapter, our biggest challenge was retaining members. However, we overcome this obstacle by understanding the importance of the general members and their feedback. Our advice to other chapters is to personally reach out to general members as much as possible to build a bond, understand their expectations and needs, and implement their feedback to build a stronger chapter. Moving forward, the newly elected executive board at SASE-KU will implement more mentorship relationships between members, increasing more professional workshops with the industry as well as social events. Ultimately, SASE-KU wants to build a friendly, culturally professional environment for Asians and Asian Americans to prepare, grow, and celebrate future leaders.

Outstanding New Chapter Honorable Mention

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Founded in 2019, the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is the first Asian heritage pre-professional organization on campus. Our Chapter placed an emphasis on collaboration and networking in order to provide resources for the advancement of Asian heritage scientists and engineers on campus and the workplace. Throughout our first year as an organization, we were able to put on a total of 20 engagement events focused around the national organization’s three pillars: professionalism, diversity, and service. These events allowed members to learn and connect culturally, develop academically and professionally, and provide service to our home, school, and community. Some highlighted events include, but are not limited to: UT Asian STEM Professor Panel, East Tennessee Chinese New Year Social, and volunteering with MUSE Children museum during their science appreciation month. These events helped uplift and create a warm, welcoming community that is passionate about the intersectionality of the three SASE pillars and what they can do to help those thrive in the workplace. We encourage all new organizations to network and reach out to other organizations, especially those that share similar values and identities.

Overall Strongest Chapter Honorable Mention

University of Texas at Arlington

Established in 2016, the SASE University of Texas at Arlington Chapter has grown from 13 members to 96 members and is on a momentous path of growth! UTA SASE focuses on encompassing each of the three pillars of SASE by hosting a variety of professional development workshops, celebratory cultural events, and community service opportunities while also creating a tight-knit family atmosphere. We have seen a surge in the passion of our members by initiating a SASE Intern program which allows members to shadow officers, practice planning events, and be more actively involved. The majority of our interns have also run for officer board positions. We highly recommend other chapters kickstart an internship program to facilitate a great line of future SASE leaders.

UTA SASE has made strides towards uniting chapters with events like the Lone Star Throwdown, a field day with over 50+ attendees from 7 chapters, and co-hosting joint socials with chapters at the University of Houston and the University of Texas at Austin! Our goal to foster these relations reaches nationally as we executed many events with our beloved Sister Chapter, the University of Illinois at Chicago, through meeting at Nationals, pen-pals, and virtual events! We were ecstatic to have been chosen as the host for the 2020 South Central Regional Conference and were disheartened at its cancelation due to COVID-19 but are proud of the unique ideas that were planned and major sponsorship from several companies like BNSF Railway, Lockheed Martin, and more! As a result of our Spring in-person events cancelations, we implemented numerous virtual events and social media challenges to keep our members active safely. Over the years, UTA SASE has gained a prominent presence on campus and in the South Reg. and will continue to uplift others in the UTA and SASE community.

Overall Strongest Chapter

Drexel University

After a fortunate encounter with SASE’s founder, Khanh Vu, through a workshop at ECAASU’s annual conference, Keith Mui and his future fellow board members would go on to establish SASE Drexel. From its beginnings as an unheard-of student organization, the Drexel University Chapter has jumped through hoops and over hurdles, now becoming one of the most recognizable student organizations on campus. Through the countless hours of planning and hosting events, organizing innovative programs, and implementing purposeful initiatives, SASE Drexel has come to better understand what it means to be an adept student organization. From their experiences, they’ve been able to see that growth has a multitude of underlying layers that interact with each other and are important to monitor at all stages of growth.

Growth is often a top priority for all organizations. For SASE Drexel, there has always been a drive to constantly grow, which often means increasing numbers: the number of events they host, the attendance count for each event, and the retention rate of members throughout each year. While these metrics are extremely important for measuring growth, they can also become dangerous influences. When focusing too much on increasing numbers, it becomes easy to mistake quantity for quality. Metrics become an addiction that obscures part of the purpose of being a SASE collegiate chapter: to make a lasting impact.

While on this journey of growth, the team supporting the organization begins to play an increasingly important role. For a SASE collegiate chapter during these sprints to improve, whether in terms of quality or quantity, workloads can continue to grow until fellow E-board members become simply co-workers and general body members become clients. Growth itself can thus become a dangerous influence, removing the connections between members of the community that SASE was built to cultivate and serve. In this way, progress obscures an additional part of the purpose of being a SASE collegiate chapter: to support and impact the community in a meaningful way.

To be an adept student organization, growth is necessary, but even while running you still need rest. There needs to be a constant reflection to ensure both quality and quantity, ensuring that teammates interact with each other not only as co-workers but also as friends. What these two examples demonstrate isn’t just that these two independent components need to be monitored, it’s that all aspects of an organization need to have one thing: balance.