Alumni Spotlight

Jackie Nith Ishibashi
Bachelor’s Degree
B.A. Anthropology
UCLA 2006
Snap Inc.
Global Well-Being Manager
Specializes in Health Benefits and Employee Well-Being

What accomplishment are you most proud of? Why?
“My biggest accomplishment has been supporting my mom and sister when my dad passed away. It was rough, he died during my last year of college and all the financial responsibility fell upon me before I could even find a full time job. I had to grow up pretty fast but I’m really proud of staying true to my dad’s wishes.”

Which person made the most significant impact in your academic or professional success? Why or how did this person do so?
“My current Director, Dave Allen. I’ve worked with him at two companies (Snap Inc and Red Bull). He’s mentored me for the last ten years and has provided me tremendous opportunities to grow, take risks and really develop my strengths.”

What life event made the most significant impact in your academic or professional success? Why or how did this experience do so?
“When I left my safe career at Los Angeles Unified School District for a fast paced job at Red Bull. LAUSD promised retirement, pension and regular hours. Red Bull was an at-will opportunity which expected high performance. I decided to get out of my comfort zone and take the risk. It was the best decision because it challenged me so much to think outside of the box, be creative and also made me believe in myself. Sometimes when you take the safe route, it’s be used you think you’re not good enough and I was tired of that old way of thinking.”

How did you choose your current profession? Name one (1) obstacle and one (1) benefit along your career journey.
“I applied to be an Administrative Staff Aide for LAUSD and was offered a role in either Payroll, Communications or to start a wellness program in Benefits. I didn’t know anything about wellness but I wanted to learn and was inspired by the mission to help people live happier and healthier lives. A benefit in working in wellness is that I get to know people on an individual level and see the impact I make everyday. The obstacle I face is that a lot of people think my job is easy but it’s a lot of work to develop programs and events to engage people. It involves a lot of strategic thinking, strong communication skills, hands on work and long term planning.”

What was your upbringing like (i.e. Did you grow up with other Cambodians? Being the only Cambodian?) How did this help shape your identity and interests?
“I grew up in Long Beach so hell yes I grew up with other Cambodians. 🙂 I’m half Chinese but was never really exposed to that side so I always identified myself as Khmer. It is a strong part of who I am and I am so proud of our culture. I am so grateful I grew up in Cambodia Town because it has such a strong support system to celebrate our culture and connect with others like me.” 

How do you feel your narrative is similar or different to other Cambodian American college alumni?
“I think a lot of people grew up similar to me. Bring the first in my family to graduate high school and go to college, I had to figure out everything myself and that was a struggle. But I’m happy to be able to be a resource for my sister and all my younger cousins. Joining UKS at UCLA was a blessing, I felt like I was in Long Beach again and I met some of my very best friends there.”

At what point in your life did your academic and/or professional journey become clear to you? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
“Honestly I feel like at 34 I finally understand my career and purpose in life. In the past, I’ve always second guessed myself. When I was in college, I kept changing majors. When I graduated, I applied for jobs all over the spectrum. I always felt like I just fell into my career but 13 years later I’m still here but on a different level. Even though I fell into it, I chose to stay and do better.”

What are your future goals and how are you working toward those goals now?
“My goals are to keep learning and growing professionally. In the future I’d love to develop well-being programs and events for the community versus in a corporate setting.”

What advice would you give to your younger self?
“Try everything once even if it scares you.” 

What motto do you live by? How did you develop this motto and how has it helped you achieve success (or get through life)?
“Cliche but everything happens for a reason. Trust your path, everything will fall into place like it was meant to. I developed this because I was always a Type A Virgo planning my life and setting so many goals. But it becomes exhausting and you forget to present and enjoy the journey. Sometimes you just gotta let go and trust. You still gotta work hard but trust your intuition on when to let destiny help you with the rest.”