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Texas Exes Asian Alumni Network » Alumni Spotlight » January Alumni Spotlight: Channy Soeur

January Alumni Spotlight: Channy Soeur

Channy Soeur

Channy majored in Petroleum Engineering and graduated in 1984. He has been working as a Civil Engineer starting in 1985 with the City of Austin. In 1999, he started his own Civil Engineering firm called CAS Consulting & Services Inc. Today the firm has offices in Austin, San Antonio and Dallas and has a staff of almost 20.

Channy has been a proponent of the Austin Asian American Chamber of Commerce and organized the Asian community in Austin and throughout the state of Texas.

Channy Soeur currently serves as the Network of Asian American Organizations President. The Network of Asian American Organizations provides an avenue for communications both within the Asian community and in reaching out to the greater Austin community. The NAAO plans, coordinates and sponsors a variety of activities and programs throughout the year. The Network can be found on Facebook by linking through the website at www.naaotexas.org.

1. What is your favorite memory, tradition, or thing about UT?

My favorite memory of UT is that they have wonderful ping pong clubs. One club was in Belmont and the other is in Gregory Gym. I played ping pong so much that I almost flunked out of college. The dean called me to have a conversation and he asked me what my major was. Was it engineering or ping pong? That is when I decided that education is much more important to me than hobbies.

2. UT’s motto is “What starts here, changes the world”. What is one thing you would like to see change at UT?

I do not know anyone personally that graduates from UT and changes the world. I have heard of some but I do not know them personally. I suppose when you set goals, you set them as far as you can and maybe beyond your reach, beyond the attainable. The University creates hopes and dreams, and that is the way it is supposed to be. If there is one thing that I would suggest to change is to recognize that the world economy is now being diversified. India and China have become such strong forces in the world economy. Unlike the way it has been in the past, they have roles to play in the world. UT should prepare the students to be more effective in competing with China and India. The class should be prepared differently to give focus on Asia as a whole. The industry that receives these students in the workforce should also have a role to play in providing feedback to UT on how and what type of skill sets and training students need as they enter the workforce.

3. What have you learned from UT outside of the classroom?

Outside the classroom I learned how to connect to people. I came from Rhode Island Junior College where the total student body was 3,000 to a campus with a population of 46,000. I was so lost during my freshman and sophomore years. The only way that I could maintain was to try to get to know as many people as I could. That helped me in my professional career today. Part of diversity is that I also have the responsibility to be involved in and out of the classroom.

4. What are your goals for the Asian American community in the future?

My goals for the Asian American community has always been the same for the last 36 years. That is for the Asian American people to make Austin and Texas as a whole, their home. Most of us live, get an education, work, and possibly die here in Austin. And yet, many view themselves as visitors or outsiders. It is a pleasure of my life to know that an Asian American has accepted the responsibility as an Asian American living in this great country.

5. What inspired you to get involved in the Network of Asian American Organizations?

I was inspired to help found the Network of Asian American Organizations and become the current president because of the situation that happened in Los Angeles, CA, with Rodney King and the race riots. I watched on tv as the Asian merchants, especially the Koreans,  get robbed, beaten, killed, stores destroyed, and businesses were ruined. The Asian merchants were the scapegoats for what went wrong in LA at that time. This event taught me that everyone has the responsibility to respect one another in order to coexist.

There are 2 sides of diversity. One is that you are being discriminated against. The other is that you are discriminating against someone else. So in order to have a community living in peace, we as the Asian community have to accept our civic responsibility to be active participants of our community.

So I accepted that responsibility and helped found the Network to serve as a communications point between the Asian American community and the greater Austin community.

6. What has been the biggest struggle in your career, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest struggle has been overcoming professional jealousy by others. In some way, people stereotype you and they don’t understand what you are trying to do. It took me most of my career to understand that I have to handle things in a different way. I slow down. I take the time to explain to people what I am trying to do. I learn what the concerns are and I redirect their negative energy away from me. I cannot say that I have mastered the skill of overcoming professional jealousy from others.

7. Who is an important role model to you?

I have a lot of important role models but probably the most important is former City of Austin Mayor Gus Garcia. He was the first of many things including the owner of the first Mexican-American CPA firm, first Mexican-American Chairman of Austin Independent School District, first Mexican-American Mayor, first Mexican-American to have a school named after him,  among others. He is a trailblazer who personally taught me how to survive in the rough and tumble political climate. He taught me how to separate who you are from what you do. No matter what you do and what title you have, you are still the same person who still holds the same values as you have your whole life. That is an important lesson for me to understand that power can lead to corruption unless you stay true to your values.

8. What piece of advice would you give incoming freshmen or current students?

Stay focused on what you want to do, and don’t be afraid to change your mind if you decide to follow a different path.  Setbacks are just a part of life. You just need to overcome them as fast as possible and move on. There is no right way or wrong way. The harder you try the more satisfaction you will receive when you succeed.

Written by Ernie Chan

Filed under: Alumni Spotlight

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