Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP) Leadership In Action Intern, Kenny Ung, was placed at the Asian Business Association. He worked on numerous projects, events, and assessments at the organization. He is currently an MBA student at Boise State University and a graduate of Azusa Pacific University. Below he tells LEAP who he would like to have present at his Leadership In Action graduation and why.
Khun Ung is my father; he’s a warrior, a survivor, and a hero. In 1975, Pol Pot began his communist regime in Cambodia. In the midst of the bedlam, millions of people were forced into labor camps or murdered. My father and his family were caught in the center of this political strife. After his brother was kidnapped by soldiers and never heard from again, my father made a decision to leave Cambodia. Under the cover of night, with only the clothes on his back, my father took his six remaining siblings and headed to the border of Thailand. It was a 600-mile walk.
In 1980, with the help of the Red Cross, my father and his family resettled in Memphis, Tennessee. He married and had three children. A few weeks after I was born, my father opened a small restaurant and has worked twelve hours everyday for the last 24 years. My father always tells my siblings and I, “We are in America. I work hard so you all may have a chance to be successful. Go to school, learn, and be the best you can be. I will support you until my body grows too old to work.”
With every achievement, I am keenly aware that I represent more than myself. My father went through hell, so I could have these opportunities to experience a different life. I want to honor my father. I want to show him that his sacrifices have been worth it. If my father could attend my LIA graduation, he would be reminded that all his hardships were worth it. My father is the man who has shaped me into the person I am today. He demonstrated to me what it means to never give up no matter life circumstances. I want to show him that his example has led me to where I am today. It would be a great joy to have him celebrating my graduation and partaking with me in my successes.
Thanks to Southwest Airlines, Mr. Khun Ung was able to attend the graduation on August 8, 2014 and be with his son to celebrate his growth and success this past summer. During the graduation, Kenny exclaimed that this internship was “The Best Internship Ever!”
About Leadership In Action
Leadership in Action (LIA) is LEAP’s eight-week paid summer internship program designed to develop emerging young leaders by providing college students with practical leadership skills and the opportunity to work hands-on in the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community in Southern California. For more information, visit: www.leap.org/empower_lia.