Ju Hong, a graduate of Laney College, UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University, works as a program analyst for the California Department of Social Services’ Immigration and Refugee Branch. Ju was part of Immigrants Rising’s Ambassadors Program in 2009 and the New American Scholars Program in 2013. He currently serves on the Leadership Council.
How did you first connect with our organization?
I revealed my immigration status to my best friend, and he found out that there were scholarships available for undocumented students from E4FC [Educators for Fair Consideration, now known as Immigrants Rising]. I applied for a scholarship, but I didn’t get it. I’ve held a grudge to this day — just kidding.
Even though I didn’t get the scholarship, Kathy Gin kept in touch and invited me to events. I applied to the Ambassador Program and got in. It was my gateway to being part of the E4FC family.
How did being part of this family impact you?
It transformed my life. Kathy has been my mentor since day one. Whatever problems in my personal life or anything that relates to immigration issues, I always go to Kathy and get advice and support. Kathy and others at E4FC really influenced my character and my personality and how I make decisions, how I communicate, how I portray myself within the immigrant community and professionally.
The different E4FC programs allowed me to explore a lot of creative outlets and at the same time be grounded, be myself, and connect with other people. I remember creating a video to share my personal story and encourage other Asian undocumented folks to come out. People heard about it and connected with me. I was able to help distribute valuable information to them and help build E4FC’s capacity and network.
The atmosphere here allowed me to be free, allowed me to be myself, allowed me to be vulnerable and speak my own voice.
What are your hopes for our organization and community?
E4FC is really needed at this moment because I think it can bring a lot of diverse groups of people together in one place. We should continue to have a safe space and conversations, and understand what the challenges, trends and best practices are to serve our community.
I am very optimistic and very confident that E4FC will go far. I’m just grateful for the fact that I’m part of this process. I want to give back as much as possible.