A Birthday Celebrating Real Commitment and Lasting Connections
By AJ Robinson (1990) | When Kevin Chung and I first met in Atlanta at Scholars Weekend in 1990, we were both high school seniors from the San Francisco Bay area trying to decide on our next steps after graduation (we both chose Stanford University, where our friendship was cemented) and trying to figure out what big ideas like “leadership” and “community involvement” meant to each of us. One thing we began to realize that weekend was that we were part of a family that would support and nurture our goals in these areas. Twenty-two years later, Kevin, now an attorney and Director of Corporate Compliance for Sony Computer Entertainment America (PlayStation), decided his 40th birthday would be the perfect opportunity to demonstrate leadership and community by raising money and awareness for the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.
Kevin, who served the past two years as a member of the National Selection Committee for the Foundation, says he was inspired to do and give more after meeting students during the past two Scholars Weekends and seeing the hard work and dedication of Foundation President J. Mark Davis, Chairman Claude Nielsen, and the entire Coca-Cola family. “I wanted to acknowledge the investment in me by trying to repay the $20,000 scholarship I was awarded in 1990,” Kevin says.
For many people, a milestone birthday usually means a gathering with a few friends, a cake, and some banners with silly sayings about being over the hill. To reach his goal of repaying his scholarship, however, Kevin and his wife, Christine, knew they needed to plan a memorable event and get help from several special people.
To entertain more than 220 guests at the Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, California, on August 25, Kevin invited his golfing buddy, Grammy-nominated R&B artist Brian McKnight, to perform a unique one-man concert. He also featured a raffle of “Kevin’s Favorite Things” that included tickets for all of the Bay Area’s major sports teams and exclusive prize packages from Sony PlayStation, Stanford men’s basketball, Nike Golf, Roger Craig of the San Francisco 49ers, and, of course, Coca-Cola. To warm up the crowd, Kevin debuted his documentary/mocumentary about his moonlighting job as the official scorekeeper of the Stanford men’s basketball team.
Kevin wanted to make sure his guests viewed first-hand the amazing work of the Foundation. He gathered a panel of past and present Coca-Cola Scholars to share their experiences with the audience. The panel featured Scholars Michael Tubbs (2008), Kylan Nieh (2010), Radhika Mitra (2010), and myself. Kevin and Dr. Rita Ng (1996) moderated the discussion. The Scholars spanned different eras of the Foundation’s history, yet everyone shared a common awe of how large the alumni network has become and the new ways social media allow us to connect with and support each other. What came across most clearly during this evening of celebration was the way in which the Foundation helps give Scholars a community and a larger context for giving back and doing good. J. Mark Davis, President of the Scholars Foundation, also attended and shared his perspective on the work of the Foundation and the family of Scholars. Alumni Advisory Board member Jason Pate (2005) was also able to attend.
After the panel and concert, Mark presented Brian with a limited-edition crystal Coca-Cola bottle for his generous support of the Foundation. Kevin and Christine acknowledged Dora Wong and the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of California for their support in making the event a success. They also thanked their friends, family, and colleagues who generously donated to the Foundation in honor of Kevin’s birthday. At the end of the event, they were pleased to present Mark with a large (literally too big for his suitcase) check in the amount of $21,000. As of press time, the current donation total has risen to more than $30,000.
I know I’m one of many of Kevin’s friends already looking forward to seeing how he celebrates his 50th birthday! Here’s hoping that Kevin’s birthday party will be an inspiration for similar celebrations among other Scholars.
Here are more photos of the event taken by Kevin’s friend and photographer, Nikole Lim.
Dr. Alonford James Robinson, Jr., was selected as a Coca-Cola Scholar in 1990. He is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard University and currently runs Symphonic Strategies, a company he started in 2004.