Cary, NC — In a Saturday awards ceremony, several Cary residents made history as the first Asian-American group to receive U.S. Presidential Service Awards.
The Saturday award ceremony was held jointly by the NC Asian-American Coalition and the International Leadership Foundation NC Chapter. The winners of the 2021 Entrepreneurship and Leadership Contest were also announced and applauded at the event.
Adrian Tong and Dylan Norona were named the recipients of the Gold prize for their idea of reforming the nursing home inspection system in North Carolina to save taxpayer money — to the degree of $14 million per year.
“Sometimes great ideas and entrepreneurship are not about making money, but about saving money,” said Hannah Chan, Chairwoman of the International Leadership Foundation for North Carolina.
The Young Entrepreneurship and Leadership Contest explores and fosters the innovative entrepreneurial talents of young Asian Americans. This year’s concept was inspired by the theme “Great Challenges Require Greater Solutions,” and encouraged candidates to brainstorm new and innovative policies and technologies.
The goal of this contest is to raise awareness of public services for Asian Americans and promote opportunities for our younger generations to participate in the future.
Also celebrated during this event were the three recipients of the US Presidential Service Awards. This seminal occasion marks the first group of Asian Americans in North Carolina to receive this award. Siu Tong, Hannah Chan, and Lihong Yu were honored.
“It is a great honor to receive this award, which is not for my professional accomplishments, but for giving back to my community. As an Asian American immigrant, to receive this recognition from the President of the United States is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life,” said Siu Tong, recipient and CEO of Cary Medical Management.
Chiling Tong, CEO of National ACE and Founding President of the International Leadership Foundation, and Joel Szabat, former Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Aviation and International Affairs delivered keynote speeches. Krishana Polite, Director of Operations and Constituent Services, delivered a message on behalf of North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson.
North Carolina House of Representative legislatures Erin Pare of District 37 and David Willis of District 68 also delivered remarks to attendees, encouraging the youth to be curious and to be bold in their beliefs.
“I didn’t have the opportunities that some of you have before you today. I never thought that I’d have the opportunity to go to Asia and fall in love with the culture,” said Representative Willis. “Don’t lose the curiosity that you have now. Understand your culture and use that knowledge to make the state, the nation, and the world a better place.”
Story and photos courtesy of April Umminger.
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