Happy June Everyone!
This week’s “Millennial on a Mission” is a young lady whose artistic talent is truly worth more than a thousand words. Her work in social media and brand management have afforded her awesome opportunities to travel the world, take amazing photographs and work with a number of A-listers, and she still always finds time to give back to her community. While she and I had mutual friends in college, our paths haven’t crossed until recently (via social media of course) where we have built quite the friendship. In addition to our shared passion for higher education, I admire her creative spirit and ability to see beauty and everything around her.
I’d like to introduce you to Victoria Chan.
Raised in Chinatown, New York City where her father was involved with community politics, Victoria attended LaGuardia Arts (The Fame School) for high school as a vocal major. In the Fall 2005, Victoria began her career at Syracuse University, where she studied African American Studies and Political Science. “I had a hard time adjusting to life at SU,” she says. “But the best decision I made was to stick it through and not transfer back to NYC. In focusing on my double major, I became very involved with Greek life through my sorority, Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority, Incorporated.” After Victoria graduated in 2009, she moved to China to work with Jackie Chan as his executive assistant. Since then, she has worked in social media and has managed several brands including a publishing company, two non-profits, the famous Chinatown Ice Cream Factory and several celebrities. “The best part of it all? I didn’t even study that in college!”
On establishing Values Academy, and how it inspired her to go into higher education:Values Academy was started when Rafael Balbi (member of Lambda Sigma Upsilon Fraternity, Incorporated) and Greek director Eddie Banks-Crosson attended a Greek conference in Texas. Ralfi asked Eddie why SU didn’t have a Greek conference for culturally based fraternities and sororities. Eddie said, “So start one!” Since then, the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Affairs sponsors the 1 1/2 day conference in the fall semester. Student leaders and advisors from the Tri-State area participate and exchange ideas through speakers, panels and workshops. We cover everything from masculinity/femininity, remaining authentic in your organization, hazing, etc. I am proud to have the opportunity to go back to SU and give back. Last year, 12 alumni traveled from NYC, Washington DC and Boston to present. We want to show the younger Greeks that we still care. I didn’t have the opportunity to attend Greek conferences, let alone host one when I was in undergrad. I am very proud to be part of Values Academy. In fact, the student affairs professionals at Syracuse (Eddie Banks-Crosson, Debbie Manobianco, Anthony Otero, Max Patiño and Don Sawyer III) have all inspired me to go into higher education. I will be attending graduate school in Georgia this fall with an assistantship in the Greek life. I’ve worked with a lot of Northeast Greeks, so I am looking forward to see what the South has to offer!
On sharing her passion for photography with the world:
I do a lot of photography catered to non-profit organizations to help them reach their goals. By accident, while fans were chasing us in Shanghai, I was pushed and injured and broke Jackie Chan’s camera. He said to me, “I can always buy another camera, but I can’t have another Victoria. I’m glad you are safe.” I captured a few photos that bring Nero tears every time I look at them. There was a drought in a small village in China, and Jackie Chan wanted to visit to do community service. We traveled to the town, drove two hours up the mountain to visit the village. When he gave them fresh water and promise to build a water tower, a 90 year old man go on his knees to thank Mr. Chan. The most humbling moment? He has never owned a television and never heard of Jackie Chan.
To Victoria, being a “Millennial on a Mission” means that you’re not perfect, you make mistakes but you work hard to learn to get more notches in your belt. “I wake up every morning and take a moment to thank the universe for another beautiful day and energy for me to work hard,” she says. “In my mid 20’s, I’ve definitely learned to love myself and take care of myself a little more.” Her advice to millennials? Clean up your social media accounts, learn the art of thank you cards, keep the most updated copy of your résumé in a flash drive that keep with you at all times and don’t be afraid to meet new people and soak up their world. “If you’re the smartest person in the room, get out of there immediately but never leave a room without making an impression.”