DEI Institute 2022: "Try Harder" Private Screening

  • 01/26/2022
  • 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM
  • Online (Zoom)
  • 75


"Try Harder" Private Screening

At Lowell High School, a prestigious public high school with a majority Asian American student population, fiercely competitive seniors share the dreams, and the stresses, of getting into a top university. The director of the film, Debbie Lum, will join us! 

 Debbie Lum

Debbie Lum is an award-winning filmmaker whose projects give voice to the Asian American experience and other unsung stories. TRY HARDER!, her documentary about San Francisco’s iconic Lowell High School premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in US documentary competition. Her previous documentary, SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE, premiered at SXSW, and was a “fan favorite” on PBS' Independent Lens, won Best of Fest (Silverdocs), Outstanding Director (LA Asian Pacific Film Festival) and was featured in This American Life. Her editing credits include A.K.A DON BONUS (winner, National Emmy), KELLY LOVES TONY (nominee, IDA Best Documentary), and TO YOU SWEETHEART, ALOHA

Sophia Wu

Sophia Wu is a recent UCLA grad, where she majored in Business Economics and minored in Global Studies and Environmental Systems & Society. She hopes to use her background in business and sustainability to accelerate the transition to a circular economy and empower others to make more sustainable lifestyle choices. She’s an alum of Lowell High School and a San Francisco native who finds joy in simple things like watching sunsets, reading books that make her think, and eating good food with good company.

 Ian Wang

Ian Wang is a graduate of Lowell High School and Alice Fong Yu, which was featured in Speaking in Tongues. When he was at Lowell, he was in Shield and Scroll, played on the varsity men's volleyball team, led and founded the Lowell Investment Club, and wrote for The Lowell and The Radish, which he founded. Outside of school, he is a proud Eagle Scout and has worked as an Explainer at the Exploratorium and volunteered at NEMS, a public health clinic in Chinatown. He recently graduated from Emory and currently serves as an economics and US history teacher at Banneker High School through Teach for America.

 Julie Xie, Ph.D

Julie Xie, Ph.D. is a licensed educational psychologist in California and has been a school psychologist at Fremont United School District since 2000. She is the author of “Being a School Psychologist in America” (2016), and "Handbook of Positive Family" (2021) in Chinese.

 Brenda Gerhardt


I have been and IEC since 2012, served as a public-school counselor for the decade prior to that, and my main role now is as a counselor educator for the University of Dayton. I am hoping to instill in our future school counselors the understanding of the needs of our most marginalized and underserved youth as well as an understanding that as IECs we are all working together in service to the needs of our students.  My specific research focus is supporting the needs of youth impacted by the foster care system and have presented at local, state, and national conferences on the topic. Our session was accepted for the October NACAC conference but with the switch to virtual format as well as the myriad of additional challenges of this fall, we will not be presenting. I serve on the Ohio ACAC executive board as the co-chair of the Guiding the Way to Inclusion (GWI) committee and am involved in the Inclusion Access and Success committee work as well. I am particularly proud of the statement that our ACAC leadership created earlier this summer and have attached it here. 

 Lena Brooks


Lena Brooks is an independent college advisor in Los Angeles and a new HECA member. She specializes in helping teens with authentic essay writing, self-discovery, and finding colleges where they can thrive. Lena has a background in editing, research, and career-path planning, and has also been an alumni interviewer and study-abroad program coordinator. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College and has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She is a proud alumna of Lowell High School in San Francisco.

This event is part of the DEI Institute Series

Click here to register

This session will not be recorded. 

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