University of Southern California

USC Student Affairs and Campus Life

Jonathan Wang

Assistant Director, Asian Pacific American Student Services (APASS)

By Marla Schevker

Jonathan WangPhoto by Nathan CarterJonathan Wang

Before finding his way to student affairs, Jonathan Wang, assistant director of USC’s Asian Pacific American Student Services (APASS), was heading in a different direction.

During his undergraduate years, Wang was an active student leader. He worked with University Affairs and Student Housing at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) where he graduated with a B.S. in management science in 2007. Immediately after graduating, Wang worked in public finance for the city of Milpitas and founded his own tutoring company to serve local students.

“I didn’t find a passion in public finance,” Wang said. “While I enjoyed the time there, some days I could literally go the whole day without speaking to anyone. I couldn’t see myself working there for the rest of my life.”

After consulting his former supervisors at UCSD housing, Wang realized his passion was in student affairs. He decided to pursue a Master of Education in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs from the USC Rossier School of Education.

During his graduate program, Wang worked at the Marshall School of Business Undergraduate Programs Office and at APASS. He graduated in May, and when the APASS assistant director position became available, Wang’s supervisors encouraged him to apply.

As assistant director of APASS, Wang supervises the PEER (Positive Experiences, Enriching Relationships) mentoring program; CIRCLE (Critical Issues in Race, Class & Leadership Education), a leadership seminar; the DESI (Defining and Exploring South Asian Issues) project; and PULE (Promoting Unity, Liberation, and Education), a Pacific Islander initiative.

“What we strive to do here at APASS is educate, empower and engage our students,” Wang said. “We want to educate them about who they are and how they can become better leaders; empower them to take the initiative and do something; and engage them as students, citizens and members of our community.”

New this year is the Friday Download, which invites students to the APASS Office in STU 410 on Fridays at 3 p.m. for free food and discussion about current events that impact the Asian Pacific American community.

APASS will also continue its work with Project ReMiX, a collaboration with the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs and El Centro Chicano. The project kicked off a few weeks ago with a poetry and open mic night that focused on multiracial social justice. Project ReMiX has two upcoming events: a discussion of what skin color means to different ethnicities and races in “Intra-Racial Racism” on February 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. on the 3rd floor of  UCC; and a conversation and movie screening during “Cultural Specific Centers; Legacy and The Future with CaCCCHE Centers [California Council of Cultural Centers in Higher Education]” on March 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. at a location to be announced.

Wang’s favorite part of the assistant director job is working with students.

“I’m new here in this role, but I’ve been at APASS for two years,” Wang said. “My goal is, with the new leadership, to continue the atmosphere and vibe that was previously provided and expand that. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to serve our students and to continue the relationships I had with them and with the university.”