Who Do You Look UP To?


We are launching the Looking UP project this week at UC Irvine.

As a part of the project, participants may share stories about the people they look UP to. The Looking UP team decided to share our own stories.

Who Inspires Me

There are many definitions of the word “inspire.”  I felt that the following definition was the best fit for my life:

 “Inspire – to stimulate to action; to motivate.”

It did not take long for me to determine who most inspires me the most because they inspire me every day.  For me, there is not one, but three people that stand out more than the rest.  Those three people are the members of my immediate family- my mother, Kelly Sing, my father, Ronnie Sing, and my older sister, Alanna Sing. Read more…

Genaro ‘Chicanito’ Hernandez inspires me.

Genaro was my boxing coach. I picked up boxing for recreational purposes. At the time I had many petty frustrations and had very little confidence in myself. I thought picking up boxing would help me let loose some of my anger and lose some weight.

Somehow I found this 2 time super featherweight champion as my coach at a local boxing gym. The man was incredibly kind to me. Everyday I worked with him he had this unwavering positive vibe that was contagious. We were able to develop a bond because I came in consistently, and stuck with his classes (many dropped his classes because it wasn’t enough cardio and was too technical). What I liked about his instruction was that he found a way to tie my interest in bboying with boxing. He taught me how everything in life, not just boxing, needs rhythm and confidence. I saw myself gradually transform out of my frustrated and low self-esteem self. Read more…

Rovannarin Khat inspires me.

My mom inspires me.

Over the last few months, I’ve learned more and more about my mom’s past as a refugee during the Khmer Rouge rule of Cambodia. She has experienced the hardships of starvation, child labor, losing her family members and, essentially, running for her life—all by the age of 14. She has faced troubles I could never imagine enduring. I admire her strength and courage to confront death in the face on numerous occasions, prioritizing the lives of her brothers and sisters and mother and father over her own well-being. Read more…

Elizabeth Wang gives me hope!

Elizabeth has always displayed an endearing strength that empowers me to be convicted in my beliefs and dreams. She does not let others’ standards affect her choices and this ability to be honest and true to herself is something I have always admired. Especially during her college experience, she toughed out a great deal of adversity which taught me to see the good in hardship and to appreciate whatever comes my way. I can’t imagine my life and who I would be without her.  Thanks for making me want to be my better self and for always being my number one fan. I am beyond blessed to call you my older sister.

The Vo fambam inspires me

My family, above anything else in my life, inspires me. Each individual member has taught me something through their unique life story and endless love.

My mom, Diane Pham, worked tirelessly throughout her entire life to do well in school and beat the odds her family was dealt with. She ultimately ended in a foreign country, working her way through college and dealing with life with more tenacity and inner strength than imaginable. She is a better mother than I could ever hope to become and the greatest blessing in my life. Read more…

Visit the Looking UP Project homepage to  share your own story about the person you look UP to!



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