Donor Spotlight: Establishment of Endowed Internship to Promote Health and Wellness

The Asian American Cultural Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has announced a major gift from Paul (LAS ’71, MS ’73) and Anne Poy, of Oak Park, IL, to establish a student internship to promote the emotional, mental, or spiritual health and resiliency of students.

The Paul C. and Anne E. Poy Intern will work with Asian American Cultural Center staff to develop programs focused on preparing students to navigate both the unexpected adverse experiences of life as well as the daily pressures that may affect academic and personal success. Poy Interns will also support ongoing health and wellness initiatives through the Center, as well as gain hands-on experience through practical outside the classroom learning opportunities that develop life skills, build confidence, and improve the lives of others through service.

“Through my life experience, I thought it would be appropriate and useful to share—to allow young Asian Americans an opportunity to discover and consider the mental, emotional, and spiritual resources that help define an abundant, joyful life,” said Paul Poy. “Asians and Asian Americans may start with societal norms that may require both adaptive values and new behavior to thrive in a changing future context. Rather than being anchored to the past, an informed vision of both time and history (and your place in the world) may lead to re-defined responsibilities toward others and the larger world.”

Paul Poy describes his years at Illinois as “rather pedestrian” at a time when he estimates only 300 Asian students were enrolled on the Urbana campus in the late 1960s and early 70s. What he recalls is in many ways emblematic of Asian American student experience: studying at the Undergraduate Library, familiarizing himself with dining hall food very different from the Chinese food at home, and learning how to do his own laundry—though he remembers wearing the same jeans most of the time—all while trying to prepare for the next steps in his life.

These everyday student experiences have evolved into the generous desire to give back to the current Asian and Asian American student community and support their emotional wellbeing and growth during their own years at Illinois. A major in psychology provided the foundation for Paul’s lifelong concern about mental health and emotional wellbeing, and resulted in a master’s degree at Illinois in the same field.

 “The student population has increased greatly in both diversity and number since I attended the University,” Poy said. “Students can consider where you came from and where you are going. As expected, you may have to function in situations where the family background has little expertise, or relevant experience, to help prepare you.”

Paul C. Poy completed his BS in psychology in 1971 and his MS in psychology in 1973. He was in ROTC while a student and served in the National Guard reserves as well as the SIOP Reserves (Special Forces support reserves). Throughout his career he served in multiple leadership positions in information technology with General Motors, as assistant vice president and technical officer at JP Morgan Chase, and lead systems engineer for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Dr. Anne E. Poy recently retired from the University of Chicago Hospitals after a distinguished career as an internist. Both Paul and Anne share a passionate commitment to service in their community. Paul served for many years on the Board of Directors for the Pui Tak Center in Chicago Chinatown, addressing the needs of new Chinese immigrants.

The Paul C. and Anne E. Poy Internship is the Asian American Cultural Center’s third endowed internship, which includes the Hermia Soo Outreach Internship, and the Asian Pacific American Alumni Internship supported by nearly one dozen Asian American alumni integral to the creation of the Asian American Cultural Center. The first Asian American Cultural Center Poy Intern will begin fall 2018.