Department of Energy

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month: 10 Questions for Kerry Cheung

May 22, 2019

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Kerry Cheung  is a Program Manager for electric grid research and development in the Office of Electricity
Kerry Cheung is a Program Manager for electric grid research and development in the Office of Electricity. 

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! To celebrate, we’re highlighting a few of the people at the Energy Department who are helping to change the world.

1. What’s your job title and how long have you worked at the Energy Department?

I’m a Program Manager for electric grid research and development in the Office of Electricity. I have been with the Department for over eight years in various capacities, starting initially as a Fellow.

2. What inspired you to work in your field?

Former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and President Obama visited MIT, in 2008 and 2009 respectively, and discussed the importance of tasking the brightest minds to solving the greatest challenges facing the Nation and the world. Both calls to service inspired me to put my technical know-how towards helping Government make better decisions.

3. What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Predicting the future and ensuring the future we want becomes a reality. Generally, my job is to identify problems facing the Nation over the next 20-30 years, organize and build communities to explore and develop innovative solutions, and help accelerate research and implementation of solutions to manage the problems before they become major issues.

4. Do you have any words of advice for people looking to enter your field?

It’s important to keep your perspective and focus on the long term. Government work, especially federal research and development, takes time to see results and requires creativity, flexibility, and adaptability to manage uncertainty and the periodic changes in priorities.

5. How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?

Growing up in a Chinese American household, I was instilled with values that celebrated hard work, education, family, and community – values that reflect who I am today. Additionally, Confucian principles of humility and respect for elders has made me more of a listener than a talker which isn’t always seen as a strength in the American workplace.

6. Does your family have any traditions that are especially important to you?

Thanksgiving with my cousins. It’s the first U.S. holiday that I can remember my family celebrating and the only one that brought the extended family together for dinner every year.

7. What are some interesting hobbies or talents that most people may not know about you?

I occasionally paint or take photographs to tap into my creative side and interest in the arts.

8. What’s your favorite book or podcast?

N/A. There are too many books that I have read and I don’t listen to podcasts.

9. Which historical figure do you admire the most and why?

Thomas Jefferson. As a founding father and a renaissance man, he embodied many of the values and traits that I admire. Additionally, I find his view that institutions need to evolve and change with the times to be very wise.

10. What does Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?

It is a time to recognize and celebrate the rich history, cultural diversity, contributions, and modern experiences of Asians Americans and Pacific Islanders. The AAPI community is extremely diverse, with many different languages, cuisines, and beliefs, which has made the fabric of U.S. history and culture stronger and more unique.

Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
The Energy Department celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
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