Houston's Asian American Journeys: Ashton Kao
Produced in partnership with the University of St. Thomas MAX Studios and Yetter Coleman LLP
Ashton Kao currently attends the Strake Jesuit college preparatory school. He has played both on the Varsity Rugby and Hockey teams and demonstrates an all encompassing love for his community. Watch his videos to understand the importance of giving to one's community, the strength that lies within family, and the importance of being willing to take the first step towards change.
On Family and the Importance of Giving Back
On Embracing Being a First-Generation Asian American
On Supporting Causes and Communities
On Playing Hockey
On the Future
About Ashton Kao
I am a rising senior at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory. I have two older brothers, who have set examples of high achievement and community service for me. I am taking max rigor AP classes, play varsity rugby and varsity ice hockey, and am fully involved in school activities, organizations, and service to the community. My life has always been structured around service.
While my mother taught me about giving back, my father taught me how to make money. In 2012, when I was seven years old, my brothers and I bought our first investment property with a loan from our father. With half of the profits, we started The Awesome Fund in 2014 to support awesome charitable projects. Our first grant helped the 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 under Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP). We have helped create 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 organized 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 labor, but a passion of mine. I love it. It is in my blood. I see that I can play a direct role in helping improve the lives of many. Everyone deserves to have a happy and fulfilling life. I hope that someday, my work can make a positive impact on social equality, regardless of one’s social, economic, and racial background.
About Houston's Asian American Journeys
In partnership with the University of St. Thomas MAX Studios, Asia Society Texas presents a new video series, Houston's Asian American Journeys. Through short video interviews with local Asian Americans, the series illuminates the voices that make up a vital part of the most diverse city in the U.S.
Featuring Houstonians who reflect the richness and diversity of the local Asian American communities, the series highlights a variety of experiences, cultures, religions, and ethnicities and explores themes of identity, memory, and shared humanity. In sharing these personal journeys, Asia Society Texas and the University of St. Thomas seek to build empathy and connectivity between people, as well as deepen our collective understanding of Asian American experiences in Houston.
About the University of St. Thomas
The University of St. Thomas is a comprehensive university, grounded in the liberal arts. Committed to the unity of all knowledge, we offer programs in the traditional liberal arts, professional, and skill-based disciplines. Graduates of the University of St. Thomas think critically, communicate effectively, succeed professionally and lead ethically.
By pursuing excellence in teaching, scholarship and service, we embody and instill in our students the core values of our founders, the Basilian Fathers: goodness, discipline and knowledge. We foster engagement in a diverse, collaborative community, and our student body reflects the rich diversity of the city itself. We welcome undergraduate and graduate students of all faiths and of no faith.
About UST Max Studios
In his lifetime, St. Maximilian Kolbe founded and ran a radio station and several publications. It is in this tradition that University of St. Thomas – Houston steps into the realm of digital content creation through MAX Studios. Inspired by St. Maximilian’s passion and emboldened by St. John Paul II’s words in his encyclical “Redemptoris Missio,” MAX Studios’ goal is to provide fresh monthly content and conversation. MAX Studios aims to encounter the surrounding culture while highlighting the diversity of the Catholic Faith Tradition.
About Asia Society Texas
Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating the vibrant diversity of Asia, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community — trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.