The month of May marks the celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (APAHM)! As part of our ongoing commitment to D&I, we’ve connected with our colleagues who identify as Asian, Asian American and/or Pacific Islander to provide a platform to share their personal backgrounds, identities to amplify their voices in our organization though employee spotlights.
Q. How has your background or experiences as an Asian American helped you to achieve excellence and make AArete a better place?
Being a first-generation Filipino American in my family, a lesson that both my parents taught me from a young age was to be resilient, even in the face of hardship. My parents immigrated to America from the Philippines in their early 20s and without their courage and determination, I would not be the woman I am today. Through obstacles like overcoming a language barrier and culture shock, they have grown to be successful professionals in the healthcare industry (my mother, a Director of Nursing in a skilled nursing facility and my father an Operating Room nurse). By learning from their journey, I believe that this has helped me at AArete by working through any problem that may arise, and facing it head on. They have also taught me that being uncomfortable in the unknown is not a weakness, but rather a challenge that will prove to be worth it in the long run. Whether it’s facing clients or answering tough questions, I will continue to pursue things headstrong, just as my parents did.
“Risha joined our team and immediately hit the ground running, adding value from day one. She was asked to take on a lot of work and learn new areas early on and she rose to the challenge with an amazing attitude along the way. Within her first few weeks, Risha was already leading client meetings and working directly with CODE to complete complex analyses. Risha is also a pleasure to work with, always providing laughs and smiles on our daily team calls. It’s great to be able to call her a friend, even after only a few months of all virtual meetings, which just speaks to how welcoming she is.”Melissa Fenchel, Senior Consultant at AArete
Q. Who is an AAPI figure that inspires you?
Believe it or not, my younger sister, Shari, is the first person that comes to mind. She is currently a rising senior attending Rutgers University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in both Health Administration and Political Science. She is also studying for the LSATs and plans to practice Healthcare Law in the future – if that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is! Through the last several years, I’ve seen her excel in her studies and grow into a beautiful young woman, inside and out. She has continually shown resilience in her life, and I’m very excited to see where it takes her.
Q. What is one thing you’d like to share about your heritage?
A common gesture you may see amongst Filipinos, more specifically to their elders, is the exchange of a blessing or “Mano.” In this gesture, the younger person will take the back of an elder person’s hand and press it against their forehead. This is viewed as a sign of respect for the elder, a tradition that my family carries to this day.