Society features

Asian American Trips to Houston: Ashton Kao

Produced in partnership with MAX Studios at the University of St. Thomas and Yetter Coleman LLP

Ashton Kao is currently attending Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School. He has played on the varsity rugby and hockey teams and shows a total love for his community. Watch his videos to understand the importance of giving back to your community, the strength that lies in the family and the importance of being ready to take the first step towards change.

On family and the importance of giving back

Accept being a first generation Asian American

On supporting causes and communities

Play hockey

In the future

About Ashton Kao

I am a rising senior at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory. I have two older brothers, who showed me examples of success and community service. I take maximum rigor AP classes, play varsity rugby and varsity ice hockey, and am fully involved in school activities, organizations, and community service. My life has always been structured around service.

While my mom taught me to give back, my dad taught me how to make money. In 2012, when I was seven years old, my brothers and I bought our first apartment building thanks to a loan from our father. With half of the profits, we launched The Awesome Fund in 2014 to support awesome charity projects. Our first grant enabled students at Treasure Forest Elementary School to finally have their own playground. When our friends heard about it, they wanted to join our family. So my brothers and I recruited seven of our friends. Together we founded the Asian American Youth Giving Circle, which I currently chair, and I am proud to say that this giving circle is the largest minority youth giving circle formed by Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders. in philanthropy (AAPIP). We’ve helped start soccer clubs for Amaanah Refugee Services and supported many after-school programs with Catholic Charities and the Alliance for Multicultural Community Services, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, and YMCA. Most recently, our group held a fundraising luncheon and raised over $80,000 to raise awareness and promote mental health services for Asian teens at the Chinese Community Center.

Giving back is not a job, but a passion for me. I love it. It’s in my genes. I see that I can play a direct role in helping to improve the lives of many. Everyone deserves to have a happy and fulfilled life. I hope that one day my work can have a positive impact on social equality, regardless of a person’s social, economic and racial background.

About Asian American Trips to Houston

In partnership with MAX Studios at the University of St. Thomas, Asia Society Texas presents a new video series, Asian American Trips to Houston. Through short video interviews with local Asian Americans, the series illuminates the voices that make up a vital part of America’s most diverse city.

Featuring Houstonians who reflect the richness and diversity of local Asian American communities, the series highlights a variety of experiences, cultures, religions and ethnicities and explores themes of identity, memory and shared humanity. By sharing these personal journeys, Asia Society Texas and the University of St. Thomas seek to build empathy and connectedness between people, as well as deepen our collective understanding of Asian American experiences in Houston.