06 Mar A Call to CAPAL
Now is the time to apply for Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) summer internships and scholarships! These paid opportunities are open to all majors and are suited for those looking to gain federal government experience. Curious to learn more about CAPAL? We interviewed Alex Tran, a recent alumnus of Lambda Phi Epsilon who currently serves on CAPAL’s Board of Directors. Alex graduated in 2014 from the University of Virginia, double majoring in Political Science and Cognitive Science.
Q & A with Alex Tran
Describe yourself in three words.
Loyal. Curious. Earnest.
How did you first get involved with CAPAL?
I first heard about CAPAL in the Spring of 2013 when I was searching for a summer internship. After finding their posting online, I did some further research and discovered that an alumnus from my own chapter was a former board member. With his help, I was able to get an internship through CAPAL and the rest is history!
What types of responsibilities are expected out of a CAPAL Board of Director?
I currently work on the Operations Committee for CAPAL. Our main responsibilities include recruiting, screening, and interviewing New Board Members, Legal Counsels, Fellows, Interns, and Scholars. In addition to that, the Operations Committee oversees the organizational management of CAPAL’s corporate structure in order to optimize its processes. Right now we are in the midst of outreaching to University students, to get them to learn about CAPAL and apply for the Federal Internship and Scholarship program. I am also co-leading an initiative to get CAPAL on the General Services Administration Schedule, a federal acquisition vehicle that will help expand CAPAL’s internship program offerings across the government. If we are able to achieve this long term project, it would help propel CAPAL to new and unforeseen heights.
How did you develop an interest in public service?
My involvement as a campaign fellow really sparked my interest in community organizing. I joined President Obama’s local campaign group “Organizing for America” as a second year, around the same time as I found Lambdas. As a fellow, we were responsible for calling, tabling, and canvassing to remind people to register and vote on election day. Our success in the end helped me realize that, despite our seemingly small actions, grassroot community action can ultimately achieve a grand purpose. The aggregation of our work, at all levels, helped us achieve the President’s re-election and revolutionize how Presidential campaigns are run. Joining Lambda Phi Epsilon allowed me to foster and apply this sense community, as our chapter placed a heavy emphasis on service. It is a principle I carry on today and one that I believe resonates with CAPAL’s mission.
Why did you decide to become a brother of Lambda Phi Epsilon?
Like many others, I had no interest in joining a fraternity when I entered college. I only met the brothers at UVA through a friend I had met by chance in my first weeks of school. This friend would pledge for Lambdas that Spring, and I eventually met the rest of the brothers. I respected what I saw. I was struck by their openness and understanding despite my unfamiliarity with the environment or culture. You see, being half-Asian, I did not grow up with a distinctly Asian-American upbringing/culture (I tried pho for first time during rush). Although Asian culture was lacking in my house, my father did emphasize Asian values such as academics, family, and respect. I saw characteristics that I valued in the active brothers, and wanted to explore my own Asian identity.
How has your membership in the fraternity shaped your future career goals?
Networking with alumni helped me get my first job, but I would say that joining this fraternity provided me with a framework for me to live my life, rather than simply help shape my career goals. Lambdas taught me all the traits and principles I needed in order to be a leader. From there, it was my responsibility to act on what I had learned by simply striving to achieve our fraternity’s mission on a daily basis, I was able to unlock my own leadership potential and apply it to settings that I had interests in. With that in mind, I go to work every day trying to be the best Lambda Man I can be.
Please elaborate on your favorite moment as an active member of the fraternity.
Although I only had two years as an active, I experienced a multitude of emotions, challenges, and successes that made my college experience a memorable one. However, if I had to pinpoint one moment that stands above the rest, it would have to be the moment we left our Active Status Presentation at Convention XXVI in Orlando, Florida. Having experienced heartbreak a year ago in California, our chapter returned ready to win. Our house worked tirelessly to make sure all of the hitches from the previous year were smoothed out. We came to Orlando with energy, pride, and a sense of unity that was tangible as we marched out of the meeting room. It all coalesced beautifully as we did our chapter call and heard it reverberate throughout the hotel lobby. I could not dream of a better way to close-out my active life.
How did you coalesce civic engagement and community uplift in your fraternity events?
In the fall my neo year, I coordinated a joint registration drive between Organizing for America and my chapter in order to target more Asian American voters; a demographic known for having some of the lowest turnout rates on election day. This collaboration was a great opportunity for Lambdas to demonstrate to the community that we are not just simply a social fraternity, but also have an active interest in APA issues. This would eventually be the foundation of my vision for the chapter when I became President. I believed it was important for us to outreach to organizations on campus, and actively demonstrate that we wanted to work together to make our community a better place. Our collaborations with the Asian-American student organizations on campus often had a charity that we fundraised for. Co-hosting these events changed the way Asian American organizations perceived us on campus, brought us closer to the community, and in turn, helped uplift it.
Why should Lambda Phi Epsilon members apply for CAPAL programs?
College students who have an interest in gaining real-world federal government experience should apply for CAPAL’s Federal Internship or Scholarship Program. CAPAL’s mission parallels that of our fraternity (many Lambdas have joined CAPAL) and it is a great opportunity to start networking with young Asian-American professionals in the Washington D.C. area. As an intern, I made many friends with whom I am still in contact with today, and have a strong network will my own career development. I believe CAPAL has provided a vessel for me to carry out my duties as a Lambda, therefore I highly encourage other brothers to join! If you’re interested in learning more, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for the internship is March 15th, 2015 so act fast.