A bond with fellow service members inspired UC Davis alumnus and Marines veteran Alan Sung '06 to answer the call when a friend asked for his help in starting a non-profit that will provide scholarships for foreign nationals who have received a Special Immigrant Visa for their service.
While serving a combat deployment in Afghanistan, Sung worked alongside local civilians who served as interpreters and cultural advisors, enabling troops to interact with the local people and address their concerns.
“Interpreters absolutely served the coalition force and the U.S. mission. I see them as fellow soldiers,” said Sung, who is from Saratoga, Calif. and received his bachelor’s degree in international relations in 2006. “We want those who served with us to have the ability to pursue the American Dream, just as the GI Bill helped us.”
His commitment to supporting others’ educational goals inspired him to say yes to a different phone call: one from a student on behalf of UC Davis’ annual giving program. Sung’s sister Johanna, who graduated from UC Davis in 2007, told him about what it was like working for the student phone center during her sophomore year.
“She stressed that every little bit goes a long way in funding scholarships for students,” said Sung. “It made a big impression on me, so I was glad to make a gift and hope to donate more in the future.”
During his years as an undergrad at UC Davis, Sung served as a reservist. He said the administrative assistance provided by UC Davis’ Veterans Affairs Office (which will have a new home in 2016 in the Memorial Union Renewal Project) was instrumental to his academic success. Sung, who met his fiancée Rebecca Chen during their senior year, said the thing he loved the most about UC Davis was the “every day.”
“I enjoyed the everyday experience of just walking through the MU and quad and being able to interact with so many people. Aggies care about you and engage with you. They are very smart and accomplished, but humble at the same time,” said Sung. “The everyday experience is what’s amazing at UC Davis.”
It’s an experience he wants to give to future Aggies, wherever they come from.
“Whether it's an Afghan interpreter with special immigrant visa or a high school student from the Central Valley, UC Davis is such a transformational experience that I know if students can go to college here, they will learn how to pursue whatever they want and have an impact,” said Sung “I want to help as many students achieve that dream as I can.”