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Startup Social Justice

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Sidney Hong ’19 is an international management major with a peace and justice studies minor, founder and co-president of the Queer Society, and ready to take the startup industry by storm. She's also a former black belt!

Sidney Hong ’19 is an international management major with a peace and justice studies minor on the NYC Campus. She’s part of the Pforzheimer Business Honors College, a member of the Honor Society Organization, and part of Alpha Lambda Delta. You probably know her as the founder and co-president of the Queer Society, though. It's a student organization dedicated to bridging the gap between Pace and the local LGBTQA+ community. Hong also wrote, presented, and received a $27,000 grant, which funded Pace’s first-ever Queer Gala (which is set to run again this year!).

What's she been up to this year? And what's all this about her being a former black belt? Tune in for another round of our weekly "Student Profile" series!

Why did you end up choosing Pace? What set Pace apart from other universities?
Pace University was one of the few universities I applied to that encompassed all of my interest and college requirements. Not only does it have a strong business program with the options for minors at Dyson, it also had a strong Career Center as well as student organizations and an LGBTQA+ Center. Lastly, it also offered a competitive academic scholarship and resources for employment opportunities after graduation.

How did you hear about Career Services?
I was first referred to Career Services by my UNV101 course. We spent a class going over to 41 Park Row and another class looking at some of the resources they offer.

Of all your employment positions, which did you like the best? What was a defining moment for you while working there?
Looking back, one of my favorite employment positions was being an intern at a startup called Turnout.ai. As a very young and rapidly growing startup, and I wore a variety of hats. With such a small team, I quickly went from an intern working on tedious tasks such as data entry, to project management and product development.

However, the most important lesson I learned was how to manage working with someone I disagreed with. Another reason the position was such a large learning opportunity for me was because I did not agree with anything one of my coworkers said or stood for. We were on the opposite ends of the political spectrum and had very different views on business ethics as well as how to manage people and projects. Though this eventually led to me leaving the company, I learned some very valuable lessons in how to disagree with someone in a work setting while not hindering productivity or group dynamics.

We see you’re minoring in peace and justice studies! When did you decide to pursue that and why? How does it enhance your major?
My minor in peace and justice studies is a result of my interest in being a change agent for minority communities around me. I decided to pursue this minor after taking an introductory course in peace and justice studies and I really resonated with the material that we were learning. After graduation, I hope to use my business degree to join the startup industry—specifically in financial technology—and then start several of my own ventures.

Ultimately, I would like to use my ventures as tools to provide resources and opportunities to minority/vulnerable communities. Taking on a peace and justice studies minor not only provides insight into the struggles of different communities, but it gives me tools to use in the organizational behavior aspects of business. Business is becoming more and more about people and relationship-building.

What motivates you?
I have been so fortunate to grow up with privileges that have protected and supported me, and I want to be able to aid others in breaking through oppressive barriers. As I have been exposed to such a diverse community both inside and outside of Pace, my goal to become an agent of change grows ever more important. More than anything, the people in my life who act as role models continuously motivate me every single day. Individuals such as my mother who raised me while working an incredibly influential and demanding job in government, my girlfriend who is the definition of courage and strength, and my queer family on campus who create empowering physical and emotional spaces.

You’re the founder and president of the Queer Society, which received a $27,000 grant. Congratulations! How did you get involved? Where would you like to see it progress in the future?
Queer Society was founded by the E-Board in October of 2016 when there was a gap in providing student-led LGBTQA+ spaces. We all wanted to join a group that didn’t exist, so we created it. The E-Board is continuously working on Queer Society’s mission in ways that often go overlooked. From educating ourselves to be the best resources and leaders that we can, to hosting the Gala, we are constantly trying to create physical and emotional spaces of empowerment.

Moving forward, we want to bridge the gap between different student organizations on campus and LGBTQA+ communities in NYC. In the coming semesters, we want to work with as many student organizations, offices, and departments at Pace as possible to create an intersectional and inclusive environment for all.

Tell us fun and/or surprising fact about you! What’s something most people don’t know?
I’m honestly kind of lame. I’m basically a grandpa! I love documentaries, primarily on conspiracy theories and influential minority figures throughout history. I do Sudoku on the train and I’m trying to educate myself on every social activism movement out there. I was a black belt when I was 12, and used to practice four different types of martial arts. I also grew up overseas in China and Vietnam, but was born in Thailand.

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