Name: Alexis Yaeji Whang
From: Helotes, Texas
Grade: College Freshman
School: University of Texas at Austin
A house with two cars is the American dream, but even with that, many
are unsympathetic to the poor. In 2011, the IRS reported that we give
about 3% of our income to charity. This could describe my family if
it were not for my father’s experience with homelessness, albeit
for a short time and not in the hopeless conditions that most
In graduate school, his professor became unable to support my father.
So he looked for a job, but his field was new and there were no
openings. Furthermore, as a foreign student, he could only take a job
that gave “practical training”. Of course, he could work “under
the table”, but he was determined to keep his integrity and this
led to his homelessness.
Fortuitously, a church allowed him to live there temporarily, and, by
God’s grace, within six months, he found a position at the
university, and he was able to become independent again. This
experience has led him to give more than 10% of his income to charity
annually, and instill the values of giving and modest living in us.
Poverty is caused by factors from financial illiteracy to mental
instability. Fortunately, many are donating and volunteering. I began
volunteering annually from age six at the Jimenez Thanksgiving
Dinner, which annually feeds 25,000 poor and homeless San Antonians.
Shredding turkey and serving stuffing and drinks was fun, but wearing
hairnets just topped my day! It was also satisfying to see people
brighten from simple acts of kindness, but it was difficult to find
words to encourage these people, who didn’t have the luxuries I
I also visit the San Antonio Food Bank annually for a day to sort
food, and help my mother deliver meals a couple of hours a week for
the Meals on Wheels organization during the summers. In high school,
I served an hour weekly for 2 years at my school’s environmental
club. In college, I serve 1-2 hours every Saturday in school events
raising money to donate to charities like Water to Thrive.
Through this, I realized my passion in helping others. It has shaped
my career goals to become an accountant and a pharmacist. I want to
reduce the plight of the poor by increasing financial literacy as an
accountant and access to needed medication as a pharmacist. I am
trying to be “forward looking” with a goal that impacts people’s
lives and by taking steps in my education, time, and career to
achieve those goals. I am majoring in accounting with a certificate
in pre-pharmacy at the University of Texas at Austin, gaining
experience as a pharmacy technician, and continuing to volunteer in
my church, college organization, the Longhorn Pre-Pharmacy
Association, and the Asian Business Student Association to keep aware
of societal needs. I believe that helping one person at a time and
motivating colleagues to do the same is the way to make a difference
in the future.