A generous gift to the Asian American Activities Center will strengthen support for Stanford’s growing and increasingly diverse Asian and Asian American community.

Cindy Ng, the inaugural Scott J.J. Hsu Director and associate dean of students, greets students and families at the 2016 New Student Orientation. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

Siblings Will Hsu, ’98, and Angie Hsu, ’96, MA ’96, have established the Scott J.J. Hsu Directorship Fund for the Asian American Activities Center. This endowment will provide permanent funding for resources that help Asian and Asian American students thrive at Stanford, and support programs that build a community of students, faculty, staff and alumni that fosters greater awareness and understanding of the Asian experience in America. The gift honors the Hsus’ father – who emigrated from Taiwan along with the rest of the family, including Will and Angie, in hopes of creating a better life for his children – and recognizes the important role the center played during their undergraduate experience.

“We are so grateful for Will and Angie’s substantial investment in the Asian American Activities Center,” said Provost Persis Drell. “Their generosity will help ensure that all Asian and Asian American students feel welcomed and supported, are encouraged to expand their intellectual horizons at Stanford and leave campus ready to make their own contributions to society.”

Drell noted, “This gift comes at an important time as Stanford deepens its commitment to advancing racial justice, diversity, equity and inclusion through IDEAL, which is a vital part of the university’s Long-Range Vision.”

Today about 23 percent of undergraduates and 15 percent of graduate students identify as Asian or Asian American. The Asian American Activities Center, known as A3C (pronounced A-cubed-C), serves as the home for an array of student organizations that focus on racial and social justice, community service, performing arts, martial arts, Greek life and ethnic, cultural, religious and gender identities. It also provides a safe space where all Asian and Asian American students can be affirmed in all their identities and in their belief that they belong at Stanford.

Will Hsu, ’98. (Image credit: Courtesy Will Hsu)

When Will and Angie were young, their father left his engineering job in Taiwan and moved the family to the United States, where he believed his children would have access to different opportunities. Growing up in California as immigrants, they were grateful to be introduced to the A3C, where they found a deep sense of belonging.

“A3C was our home away from home, a place to celebrate Asian American identity,” Will Hsu said. “The A3C was the place where we could learn about and embrace our community. With this gift, we want to thank our parents for their sacrifices, pay it forward to help other students and inspire current and future alumni to support this remarkable community for years to come.”

After majoring in industrial engineering at Stanford, Will Hsu pursued a graduate degree in business at Wharton. Today he is the founder and managing partner of Mucker Capital, a seed-stage venture fund in Santa Monica, California. Angie Hsu earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s in psychology at Stanford and today is director and assistant general counsel at the Bank of America in New York.

Stanford continued to be a part of the Hsus’ lives after graduation. Will Hsu serves as a member of the Stanford Associates, an honorary organization for alumni volunteer service, as well as the Undergraduate Cabinet, an alumni group that advises campus leaders. He has funded a Haas Center Cardinal Quarter Fellowship for students involved in public service and served as a volunteer for his class reunion campaigns. The family also has endowed a scholarship fund for Stanford undergraduates.

Expanding critical resources for students

The Scott J.J. Hsu Directorship Fund is the first endowed directorship created for Stanford’s seven community centers. In addition to the A3C, these include the Black Community Services Center (BCSC), El Centro Chicano y Latino, The Markaz: Resource Center, Native American Cultural Center, Queer Student Resources and the Women’s Community Center. Stanford recently announced a gift creating a permanent source of funding for the BCSC.

Angie Hsu, ’96, MA ’96, with her daughter. (Image credit: Courtesy Angie Hsu)

Susie Brubaker-Cole, vice provost for student affairs, noted that the university’s community centers represent far more than social opportunities – they provide leadership training, intellectual engagement and a deep sense of belonging for students.

“The creation of an endowed directorship within A3C is an important moment for all seven community centers,” Brubaker-Cole said. “Thanks to this generous gift, the Asian American Activities Center can expand its critical work of building learning and community, and of advancing equity and inclusion toward our goal of preparing all students to be active and purposeful citizens of a complex, interconnected world.”

Cindy Ng, who has served at A3C for more than 30 years, is the inaugural Scott J.J. Hsu Director and associate dean of students. “Mr. Hsu’s love of family and community, which led to his journey to America, mirrors the values of the A3C and makes naming the director position after him so much more meaningful,” Ng said. “I am so proud to be the first Scott J.J. Hsu Director of the Asian American Activities Center.”

The Hsus’ gift to fund the directorship will enable the center to expand critical student resources such as mental health and well-being programs, mentoring that recognizes cultural differences, programs that provide leadership opportunities and build community and events that address social and racial inequities. The A3C plans to conduct assessments, data analysis and strategic planning to ensure its efforts are aligned with the needs of a changing student population.

“This gift allows us to continue to build effective programs and resources and provide more opportunities for students to engage in out-of-classroom learning around issues of race, identity and community,” Ng said. “We also hope this inspiring gift generates increased understanding and appreciation for the work of Stanford’s community centers and the impact the centers have on student lives.” Ng recently received the 2020 Amy J. Blue Award, Stanford’s highest staff honor, for her dedication and contributions to the A3C.

The Asian American community has become more diverse since the Hsus attended in the 1990s, Ng said, with increasing numbers of students from Southeast Asia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Tibet. This has heightened the need for culturally appropriate university resources. A3C was the first campus organization to offer community-based mental health resources for Asian and Asian American students. In collaboration with Stanford’s Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS), the center created CAPS at A3C, where students can receive onsite counseling. A3C’s iLive mental health and well-being program also provides a safe space for students to address stress, anxiety and anti-Asian racism, which have been compounded by the pandemic and challenges related to racial injustice, social isolation and online learning.

More than 60 undergraduate and 10 graduate organizations – ranging from the Hmong Student Union to Raagapella, a South Asian a cappella group – are based within the A3C, which is located in the Old Union Clubhouse. Students visit the center for advising and mentoring, to learn about university resources and community service opportunities, and to attend meetings and socialize. A3C staff work with partners across campus to ensure Asian and Asian American students receive appropriate guidance, especially those from low-income, first-generation and under-represented ethnic groups.

The A3C’s work makes a significant difference for countless students every year. For example, Britney Ky, ’22, a first-generation Chinese Cambodian student, said many of the center’s workshops were essential to helping her succeed academically.

“I was nervous that I would struggle to find my place at Stanford,” she said. “Through being on staff, attending A3C-hosted events and hanging out in the Couchroom, I learned so much and began to truly feel at home. My and many other students’ Stanford experience would not be the same without the A3C.”