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    McDonald’s, in partnership with NextShark, held its inaugural APA Next Summit on Saturday, November 12, providing an avenue for Asian Pacific American students and their parents to learn information on college admissions, finding your passion, mental health, and more.

    The summit was held at The Great Hall at Cooper Union in NYC. Former CNBC and NextShark reporter Ernestine Siu moderated the panel and Korean American star Arden Cho headlined as the keynote speaker!

     

    Here are some of the best highlights of the summit:

    Arden Cho (right) and host Ernestine Siu (left). Photo ⓒ McDonald’s.

    1. Arden Cho shares why she chose to follow her passion to be an actor.

    Cho said that her parents wanted her to become a doctor or a lawyer, and that a career in the arts was “not in the gameplan.” But Cho, who always wanted to perform and tell stories, felt that she had to try after growing up feeling alienated for being Asian American.

    “I moved to L.A. at 22, straight out of college, didn’t have a plan. I just felt like I had to try,” Cho tells Siu. “I could either complain forever that we didn’t have enough representation on TV…or try. So I tried, and I’m still trying.”

    Vivian Tu. Photo ⓒ McDonald’s.

    2. Vivian Tu shares why it’s important to build credit early with a useful lifehack. 

    Tu, better known as Your Rich BFF, encouraged students to ask their parents to make them an “authorized user” on their credit card if they are able to pay their monthly bill on time. This, she said, is one of the easiest ways for young people to build credit without doing anything.

    “What this essentially lets you do is that [in] the same way you’re leeching onto them for food and housing, you can leech onto them for their credit score. You essentially get an A+ grade report on your credit for all those years your parents just casually paid off their credit bill on time.”

    Tu added, “If they’re worried about you going nuts and spending crazy amounts of money, have them add you as an authorized user and just cut the card. Just promise them you’ll never use it.”

    Sierra Lloyd (left) and Connie Livingston (right). Photo ⓒ McDonald’s.

    3. Sierra Lloyd of APIA Scholars and Connie Livingston of Empowerly offer critical tips on preparing for one’s college application.

    Lloyd listed ways for students to brainstorm and outline their essays, while Livingston, who previously worked as Brown University’s admissions officer before joining Empowerly, highlighted their importance as an opportunity for each student to showcase their unique experiences and perspectives.

    Lloyd also offered insights on “reasonable” student debt. “On average, public university students accumulate $30,000 debt by graduation, or roughly $7,500 a year”. 

    “If you’re kind of in or around that, you’re doing OK,” Lloyd said. “But when you start to get into the $10K, $15K per year, that’s when you kind of want to take a break, zoom out and see whether there might be a better alternative.”

    When asked what students who do not get into their top school choice should do, Livingston referred to having a “balanced college list.” She also said one can always consider transferring schools. 

    “It’s really important that any school on your college list is a school that you would love to attend, even your ‘safeties.’ Your safeties should still be colleges that you would be thrilled to attend,” Livingston said.

    Tina Choi. Photo ⓒ McDonald’s.

    4. Influencers Tina Choi, Miki Rai, and Dr. Kevin share how their passions helped them land in their respective fields before they got into content creation.

    Choi, also known as Doobydobap, said she opted out of a pre-med track in college after getting a C in organic chemistry. Reflecting on her love of cooking and all things food, she took on her creative passion and switched her major to food science.

    Miki Rai and Dr. Kevin, are a nurse and physician power couple on social media sharing their healthcare journeys and day-to-day life. Rai, a first-generation immigrant, said she decided to pursue healthcare as it is a great field that would “put food on the table.” She then zeroed in on nursing after gaining meaningful experiences while volunteering in maternity and hospice care. 

    “Through all that, what I learned is that the journey of life is so beautiful, but also very challenging at times. To be able to support other humans in going through the difficult journey of life is very, very special, and it takes a special kind of person to be able to do that,” Miki Rai said.

    Dr. Kevin, on the other hand, said he was drawn to medicine out of natural curiosity since childhood.

    “I was pretty nerdy from when I was a small kid. I always wanted to solve puzzles, solve problems, and I found healthcare to be the place where there’s a lot of unsolved questions,” he said. “So from a young age I thought that’s gonna be great – you learn something, you use that knowledge and you help other people.”

    Ernestine Siu (left), Miki Rai (middle) and Dr. Kevin (right). Photo ⓒ McDonald’s.

    6. Dr. Kevin encourages those eyeing the medical profession to really understand what it means to be part of it. 

    “We all say, ‘Oh, you’re a doctor!’ But does anybody have any idea what that means on a day-to-day basis?” he asked. “I think it’s fine if you have the passion to be a doctor, you can go be it, but you really have to find some basis in that passion. So I encourage pre-meds out there to find a doctor or somebody working in healthcare, spend some real time seeing what their day-to-day life is and if that’s something that you really want.”

    Jason Wang (left), Sahra Nguyen (middle), and Jimmy Ferguson (right). Photo ⓒ McDonald’s.

    7. Entrepreneurs Jason Wang, Sahra Nguyen, and Jimmy Ferguson share how they seized opportunities to become their own bosses.

    Nguyen, who previously worked as a journalist, said she started Nguyen’s Coffee Supply in 2016 after seeing the coffee industry’s lack of diversity. She noticed that global coffee brands were “all rooted in a Eurocentric or Western cultural identity” even when coffee is grown everywhere.

    “I felt like there was a huge disconnect between the cultures and the communities at origin where coffee is grown to how coffee is being marketed to the rest of the world,” Nguyen said. “This lack of diversity was magnified when I learned that Vietnam is also the No. 2 producer of coffee in the world.”

    Ferguson worked as a college administrator for 19 years before becoming a McDonald’s franchise operator. He said it was his wife Cindy who applied to become a franchisee, but he quickly realized the possibilities that come with the business, especially with his breadth of experience. 

    “Cindy and I are very passionate about giving back to the community… and we saw this opportunity,” Ferguson said. “What I found out throughout my training with McDonald’s is that my skills as a college administrator, I can transfer them in working with my employees – many of whom were young people – and also with the community.”

    Wang, on the other hand, was set on a corporate path while in college and had no intention of running his father’s restaurant. However, he eventually saw the opportunity in the business, which, despite having a “dingy” location at the time, drew patrons such as the late Anthony Bourdain. 

    “Seeing those lines, how interested those people are in the food… that’s the opportunity,” said Wang, who is now chief executive officer of Xi’an Famous Foods. “Not to be opportunistic, but it’s something very personal to me and my family, because that’s the food we grew up eating, the food that I personally missed.”

    Sahra Nguyen (left) and Jimmy Ferguson (right). Photo ⓒ McDonald’s.

    8. When asked what the “boss mindset” is, Ferguson points out that it’s not about the boss at all. 

    “It’s not about you at all. It’s about everybody who touches your business,” Ferguson said. “Most importantly, it’s about your employees and whom you are doing business with: your consumers… If I had to define who the boss is, it is the consumers.”

    Jason Wang (left), Sahra Nguyen (middle), and Jimmy Ferguson (right). Photo ⓒ McDonald’s.

    9. Nguyen and Wang cite Google as a starting point when asked to recommend resources on planning one’s business. 

    “I love Google. Anything I didn’t know, I would ask Google,” Nguyen said. “Anything I would research, I study, and then I’d find people, companies or entities who had questions or answers that I couldn’t find on Google. Then I’d call or email them and ask for more insight.”

    “When you do things yourself, you know the questions to ask [others],” Wang added. “When you do it, you know exactly what you need, and then once you get that little bit of knowledge from someone, you’re good to go.”

    Sahaj Kohli. Photo ⓒ McDonald’s.

    10. Sahaj Kohli, a mental health professional who founded Brown Girl Therapy, the first and largest mental health organization for children of immigrants, explains the need for open conversations on mental health, especially in the APA community where the subject is stigmatized.

    “It [mental health] really is connected to everything we do – physical health, relationships, career, identity… everything is related to mental health,” Kohli said. “And I think it’s really important that we talk about it, because just because you don’t talk about it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, and so what really happens is people are struggling in silence.”

    Rowena Tsai (left) and Sahaj Kohli (right). Photo ⓒ McDonald’s.

    11. Content creator Rowena Tsai, who advocates for self-care, admits that self-love can be “hard.” She says one has to forgive themselves for the decisions one had made as a younger person because you were only “doing the best where you were at the time.”

    “It’s hard. I feel like there’s many layers to that [self-love],” she said. “Reflecting on my 20s, in the past decade, I think the very first thing I had to learn how to forgive myself… That took a long time.”

    APA Next is McDonald’s education initiative focusing on the Asian American community to offer exclusive materials and scholarship resources to students pursuing higher education and their parents to better map out their academic career and beyond.

    Learn more about McDonald’s APA Next and get a jump start on college admissions and planning now!

    This post was made by NextShark with McDonald’s.

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