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Honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI)
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories as well as acknowledge the important contributions of our Asian American communities.
This month, we interviewed a few of our team members and asked them about their experiences at Chartwells and what AAPI Month means to them. Their stories and videos are below.
Rani Chavez | Marketing Director at the University of Texas at Dallas
“My parents immigrated from the Philippines with a dream to build a better life and provide that same dream with boundless opportunities for their children, a common motivation among Filipinos that immigrate to the U.S. I grew up as the oldest of two in the hospitality capital of the world, Orlando, Florida. From a young age, I was surrounded by the traditions and culture of the Philippines including learning and speaking Tagalog, its national language. Growing up, my parents worked very hard to provide my brother and I a better life than the one they had back in their home country. As an American-born child of immigrants, it was easy to take that for granted, and it wasn’t until I was older that I realized how lucky we were and still are.
Family and community have always been an important part of my culture and that has shaped me into who I am today. I can’t even tell you how many family get-togethers and parties with family and friends we’ve had over the years, all filled with Filipino culinary delights like Pancit (noodle dish), Lumpia (eggrolls) and Turon (sweet banana lumpia) – all my favorites! My brother and I were lucky to have grown up alongside cousins who we are still very close with today.
While my parents encouraged me to go into a field that many Filipinos often find themselves in (medicine or nursing), I actually took time off from school for a few years trying to figure out what I wanted to do. My parents were supportive when I decided to go against the grain, and even more so when I discovered a passion for creativity and design and went back to school for it.
While in school for graphic design, I crossed paths with a marketer with Chartwells, who opened the door to the start of my career with this incredible company. I started with Chartwells as a Marketing Specialist, utilizing my graphic design skillset to market and communicate the dining program at the University of Texas at Dallas. Shortly afterwards, I transitioned into the Marketing Director role for UT Dallas, a position I still hold today. I am so thankful and blessed for the opportunities that have been provided to me over the years with Chartwells to stretch and develop me as I continue to move forward in my career.
When I’m not playing Marketer or Graphic Designer, I spend much of my time with my husband, whom I will be celebrating 9 years of marriage with this year, and my little old man (dog), Manny. I am also passionate about hand lettering and modern calligraphy, which provides a nice balance in my world of design that is most often digital. I do my best every day to inspire and empower others so that we can work together to overcome challenges and create positive and meaningful experiences with those around us.”
Edwin Santiago, Marketing Manager for California State University, Northridge
As Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month comes to a close, we take this time to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories as well as acknowledge the important contributions of our Asian American communities.
Today, we are so proud to feature Edwin Santiago, our Marketing Manager for California State University, Northridge. His story and charitable work is so inspiring, and we are so proud to have him as a part of our team!
“I grew up in the Philippines – I was born there. I moved to the U.S. in 1991 (before there was internet!) Even when I was a young boy, I knew I wanted to migrate to the U.S. I was determined to come and visit and stay here. Right after college I packed my bags and gave away everything I owned. I love the Philippines, I miss it every day, but at the same time, I feel like this is home for me.
My parents are both incredibly charitable people, and that’s how I was influenced to start my non-profit. I wanted something that will continue their acts of kindness. In 2009 I started a non-profit to build learning centers in rural areas of the Philippines, Indonesia, and Kenya. Right now, we have over 18 learning centers and we are expanding. We provide the space for kids to study and learn, read books, and have access to the internet and sports facilities. We make education affordable to people who are otherwise unable to afford any schooling. Today we help over 40,000 students a year and have given over 600 scholarships in the last 10 years.
When you grow up in the Philippines or any country for that matter, you always keep that in you. Even if you become an American citizen, part of you becomes American but there is also that part of you that is still Filipino. I am very proud of that. I am very proud that I am able to maintain my heritage and my Filipino spirit.” #aapiheritagemonth