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The Southeast Asian Circle at Penn aims to unite Southeast Asian communities through cultural events and opportunities for volunteering and consulting services (Photo courtesy of Sydney Lim).

The Southeast Asian Circle (SEAC) at Penn is dedicated to enriching the business education of Southeast Asian students. 

As the University's first organization of its kind, the SEAC aims to unite Southeast Asian communities through cultural and social events while also offering consulting services and volunteering opportunities to Southeast Asian organizations both locally and globally. 

Established in the spring of 2023 by Wharton junior Jayden Huynh-Vuong, the club actively engages students in various initiatives that blend business acumen with cultural awareness.

“There was an immense lack of both professional and cultural resources for Southeast Asian students on campus,” Huynh-Vuong said. “There wasn’t really a hub where the Southeast Asian community at Penn could come together. We wanted to form SEAC as a way to provide a group for Southeast Asian students who don’t have an existing cultural group they can identify with on campus.”

Huynh-Vuong, whose heritage is rooted in the histories of Cambodia and Vietnam, also noted the importance of challenging the model minority myth and empowering Southeast Asian students at the University.

The SEAC seeks to empower the University’s undergraduate Southeast Asian community by allowing individuals with similar backgrounds to speak on experiences and career journeys. 

Wharton junior Jovita Tedja, the SEAC’s Vice President of Member Engagement, said that the club's recent cultural event, “Three Peas in a Pod," celebrated Indonesian, Malaysian, and Filipino cultures. The club plans to include more Southeast Asian countries in future events.

Wharton sophomore Quan Dao, Vice President of Professional Development, highlighted the SEAC's aim to collaborate with the University's MBA students, especially those from Southeast Asian backgrounds, and mentioned the organization's involvement in campus tours and similar initiatives.

The SEAC also hosts speaker events where Penn alumni are invited to talk about their culture and involvement in the business world. In December, the SEAC will host a Wharton alumnus based in Hong Kong. 

The club also has many business goals designed to help Southeast Asian businesses. 

“Where do we see the club in more than five years? We want to see a portfolio of different clients,” Wharton senior Arnav Jhaveri, the SEAC’s Vice President of Consulting, said. 

The SEAC currently has two clients, but their goal this year is to reach out to local and global businesses to double their client size. The consulting services provided by the SEAC are completely free of charge and exist solely as a way to benefit Southeast Asian businesses. 

Vice President of Marketing Sydney Lim expressed satisfaction with the club's progress and future expansion plans. The SEAC, with over 70 general body members, welcomes all students to join at the start of each semester. 

“We want the club to be a safe space for those who are involved — to feel a sense of home,” Tedja said.