10 Asian American & Pacific Islander Alumni You Should Know
Posted by Kim Mousseau on May 4, 2023
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. To celebrate, we have compiled a list of 10 AAPI Binghamton alumni who are doing some pretty amazing things. From finance to politics to philanthropy to modern rock music, these alums are making a mark in their respective fields. Keep reading to learn more about these notable alumni.
Yang Chen ’87
Yang Chen is the executive director of the Asian American Bar Association of New York, a position he has held since 2009. He is the organization's first executive director, having previously served as president and committee chair. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in History at Binghamton, Chen attended law school at New York University. He was previously a partner at Constantine Cannon, a firm specializing in antitrust and complex commercial litigation, and was the first Asian-American to be elected national president at USA Dance, Inc.
In 2014, Chen was awarded the Medal of Distinguished Service by the Binghamton University Alumni Association for volunteerism at the University and excellence in professional endeavors.
John C. Liu ’88
John Chun Yah Liu is an American politician in New York City who immigrated from Taiwan at age five. At Binghamton, Liu majored in mathematical physics and served as executive vice president of the Student Association. Hailed as a “trailblazer,” Liu was the first Asian American to win legislative and citywide office as a New York City Council member (2002-2009) and New York City Comptroller, a position he held from 2010-2013. He was also a candidate in the 2013 New York City mayoral election. Currently, Liu serves in the New York State Senate, representing District 16 in northeast Queens.
As a state senator, Liu serves as chairman of the New York City Education Committee and is a member of the finance, judiciary, higher education, rules and transportation committees. Liu also teaches municipal finance and public policy at the City University of New York (CUNY) and Columbia University.
Samantha Ng ’19
Samantha Ng had a passion for public service, voter outreach and civic engagement that she honed while at Binghamton University. She was a member of the Asian Student Union and worked with the Center for Civic Engagement as a Vote Everywhere ambassador with the Andrew Goodman Foundation, where she helped organize volunteers, voter registration drives and voter education efforts.
Ng has held financial positions with political campaigns since she graduated with degrees in Asian and Asian American studies, and human development in 2019. In 2020, she was a grassroots fundraising program coordinator at Biden for President and currently serves as coalitions finance manager for the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C.
Bang Jun-seok ’93
Bang Jun-seok is a South Korean film score composer and music director who spent part of his childhood in the U.S. In the early ’90s, he attended Binghamton, where he majored in business administration. He was introduced to fellow musician Yi Sung Yol during his first year on campus. Yi and Bang would go on to form the experimental rock duo U&Me Blue, releasing two albums in Korea before disbanding in 1997. However, Bang discovered a love for film and composition and decided to pursue a career in the film industry. Over his career, Bang worked on more than 60 films, with his work spanning diverse genres, including thriller, period, melodrama and indie. He reinterpreted traditional Korean sounds and explored the world of rap music and musicals. He was considered an integral part of the renaissance of Korean cinema in the 2000s.
During his 20+ year career, Bang received multiple nominations and wins for Best Music and Best Composer at various Asian film awards shows and festivals, including the Blue Dragon Film Awards, the Korean Association of Film Critics Award and the Asian Film Awards, among others.
In 2022, Bang died in New York City at age 52, after battling stomach cancer.
Yi Sung-yol (1989-93)
Yi Sung-yol met fellow musician Bang Jun-seok when they were first-year students at Binghamton University. They began playing together, eventually forming the modern rock band U&Me Blue. In 1994, the duo achieved critical success when they relocated to Korea to launch their musical career. However, U&Me Blue struggled to find an audience, and they disbanded a few years later. After a short hiatus, Yi continued his musical career as a solo artist, achieving critical and commercial success and making his mark as one of Korea’s best-known modern rock icons.
In 2004, Yi’s debut album earned nominations for Album of the Year and Musician of the Year at the Korean Music Awards. Four years later, his sophomore effort clinched him Musician of the Year and Modern Rock Song of the Year honors. Subsequent albums, including his 2012 release, Why We Fail, earned multiple nominations and awards at the Korean Music Awards.
Yi's most recent full-length studio album, yosedreamyose, was released in 2017, although he continues to make music. He has also been hosting a radio program, World Music Journey, since 2018. Yi is considered a pioneer in Korean popular music and one of Korea’s preeminent musicians.
Charles Kim ’98
Charles Kim is the epitome of paying it backward. Kim earned an undergraduate degree in management and finance at the School of Management and is a founder and managing partner at Alpine Securities, a successful trading firm located in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Notable career accomplishments aside, it is Kim’s distinguished and ongoing commitment to the University, philanthropy and higher education that earned him the University Medal — the highest honor bestowed by Binghamton, given at the discretion of the University president. Kim also sits on the Binghamton University Foundation board.
Kim and his wife, Jean Su, are generous supporters of Binghamton University and the School of Management, creating numerous full scholarships to support Korean, Korean American and U.S. Virgin Islands students. In 2017, the Kims and Charles’ brother, James W. Kim ’99, provided funding for the Young Sam Kim Korean Student Center in Old Champlain Hall, named in memory of Charles and James’ father, Young-Sam.
In addition to his philanthropy at Binghamton, Kim supports a range of charitable causes in New York and the Virgin Islands, and with his brother created the YS Kim Foundation.
Yun Qu ’05
A former champion swimmer from China, Yun Qu had an All-American career at Binghamton. After setting a new Asian record for the 200-meter butterfly, Qu was the top-ranked swimmer in the world in that event from 1992-1993. She was the silver medalist in both the 100- and 200-meter butterfly events at the 1994 World Aquatics Championship in Rome, and in her 1996 Olympic appearance at the Summer Games in Atlanta, Ga., Yun placed fourth, missing out on a medal by less than half a second.
In 2001, Qu transferred to Binghamton from Shen Zhen University as one of the University’s most prominent international-level athletes. She was a two-time NCAA qualifier, five-time America East Champion and Binghamton’s first Division I All-American. In her three-year career at Binghamton, Qu earned five conference titles and set seven school records. In 2002, she was America East Swimmer of the Year and Binghamton University’s Athlete of the Year. Qu graduated summa cum laude in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in human development. After earning her master’s degree, she returned to Binghamton as associate head coach for the men’s and women’s swim teams. Qu was inducted into the Binghamton University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011.
JM (Justin Michael) Martin ’20, MS ’21
JM Martin earned an undergraduate degree in human development and a master’s degree in health systems science at Binghamton and has been involved in the healthcare field since graduation. His interest in healthcare isn’t surprising, given both of his parents are nurses. With an interest in process and quality improvement, he currently serves as quality management operations program manager for MetroPlusHealth at its headquarters in New York City.
Martin, whose family immigrated from the Philippines when he was a child, also has an entrepreneurial spirit and dreams of creating a non-profit healthcare organization.
Ho-fung Hung, MA ’98
Ho-fung Hung is the Henry M. and Elizabeth P. Wiesenfeld Professor in Political Economy in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and in the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Hung earned his master's in sociology at Binghamton in 1998.
Hung is an expert on global political economy, protest, nationalism, social theory and East Asian development. He is the author of multiple books, including the award-winning Protest with Chinese Characteristics (Columbia, 2011) and The China Boom: Why China Will Not Rule the World (Columbia, 2015). His work has appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, the American Sociological Review, Development and Change, Review of International Political Economy, Asian Survey and elsewhere. His analyses of the Chinese political economy and Hong Kong politics have been featured or cited in The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, BBC News and other prominent publications and news outlets.
Janice Y. Tsoh ’90
Janice Tsoh earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Binghamton University before completing her master's in clinical psychology at the University of Rhode Island.
She is professor in residence and practicing clinical psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco Weill Institute for Neurosciences, specializing in behavioral medicine, health psychology, and individual and group cognitive behavioral treatment in diverse populations, including Asian-American immigrants. She is a widely published research physician focused on smoking cessation, health disparities, patient empowerment and mental health literacy.
Kim Mousseau is the communications manager for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Binghamton University.
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