When Adrian Autry ’94 led the Syracuse University men’s basketball team into action against the University of New Hampshire to open the 2023-24 season, there were many familiar faces in the stands inside the JMA Wireless Dome cheering on the…
Huey Hsiao Embraces Helping Students Discover Themselves, Achieve Success
As the associate director of Multicultural Affairs and the Kessler Scholars Program and the interim director of the Disability Cultural Center, Huey Hsiao considers himself fortunate to be able to guide Syracuse’s students, providing a safe space for them to figure out who they are.
In his role, Hsiao provides leadership and direction on programming that enriches the University’s diverse campus culture and leads to academic, personal and social success for students.
It has been a meaningful career in higher education for Hsiao, who for nearly 20 years has worked to advance diversity and inclusion efforts, spearhead student success, especially for first-generation students, and more among college students.
It’s also a path he never envisioned himself taking when he was pursuing his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Rochester.
“Whether it’s the opportunity to figure out their identities, what they want to study, what their career can be, or what their personal interests are, part of my job is helping students feel comfortable and feel like they belong here at the University. I don’t think I could have drawn up a better career path than what I’m doing right now, as part of a wonderful team at Syracuse University,” Hsiao says.
As an undergraduate, Hsiao did not have everything figured out but was on the pre-med track. While the plan sounded good in theory, Hsiao wasn’t passionate about the medical field.
Reflecting on the path he followed until a summer vacation after his sophomore year, he admits that, perhaps he went down the pre-med track because “of societal or parental pressure.”
Originally from China, Hsiao’s parents moved to the United States and planted their roots in Connecticut. Hsiao grew up in a predominantly white town and attended school with mostly white students, although he did attend a Chinese school on Sundays.
Hsiao says it was “like pulling teeth” going to Chinese school and he eventually quit around seventh grade.
It wasn’t until that family trip to China during the summer before his junior year at Rochester, when he visited China and Taiwan, that Hsiao decided to re-connect with his cultural roots.
He started taking Chinese classes again and did a study abroad semester in China during the second semester of his junior year at Rochester, “an amazing, eye-opening experience” that motivated Hsiao to learn even more about his culture and his heritage.
Eventually, Hsiao spent time teaching English in China after college and later accepted a job with the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE), a study abroad provider, helping students who wanted to pursue a semester abroad as a program advisor and enrollment officer.
“It felt great, helping guide college students and encouraging them to participate in these life-changing study abroad programs,” Hsiao says.
After five years with CIEE, Hsiao knew it was time for a career change and decided to pursue a master’s degree in business administration.
From there, he accepted a job as assistant director of student services for M.B.A. and M.S. programs in the Whitman School, combining his interests in helping students with his graduate degree, before joining the Multicultural Affairs staff in 2012.
In his current role, Hsiao co-chairs the planning committee for the University’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration, leads programs aimed at enhancing belonging and student success, like the Kessler Program and WellsLink Leadership Program, and mentors students of color and first-generation college students on academic, personal, social and cultural matters.
Hsiao is proud of the work the University is doing for first-generation students through the Kessler Scholars Program, which provides comprehensive support to help students reach their goals from the moment their Syracuse University journey begins until they graduate.
“The Kessler Program is bigger than just the individual students; it’s about changing that overall narrative of what it means to be a first-generation college student, providing them with these great opportunities and connecting them to resources that will help them reach their goals,” says Hsiao.