January was an exciting month at Summer Search.
Our high school mentors have been busy deepening their relationships with our students, helping them integrate the reflections from their summer experiences into their lives, while also placing juniors on their second summer programs and preparing to welcome a whole new class of sophomores to Summer Search. Our College Access and Success mentors were also hard at work supporting students with college applications, financial aid, and their pursuits of their bachelor’s degrees. Plus, we announced a cool partnership with Chris Long and Michelle Obama, and we celebrated National Mentoring Month!
We were also excited to welcome two new senior leaders to the organization: Nick Hutchinson, our Chief Operating Officer, and Ching Tao, Vice President of Finance.
Nick and Ching have definitely hit the ground running to start the new year, and while the two of them have been busy getting to know Summer Search, they were kind enough to answer a few questions to help our Summer Search community get to know them.
Nick Hutchinson (left) and Ching Tao in our National office in San Francisco.
Q: Where did you go to college?
Nick: UC Berkeley. Go Bears!
Q: What drew you to Summer Search?
Ching: The Summer Search mission and the dedication of our staff to the students.
Nick: My deep belief in the promise of Summer Search. I believe we have a crisis of social isolation in our country (I highly recommend Our Kids by Robert Putnam, by the way). We all need more caring adults in our lives, and Summer Search provides that.
Q: If you had to choose your ideal summer trip, which would you prefer (wilderness, academic, service, cultural immersion)?
Nick: Wilderness forever! My best recent trips have been hiking/climbing the Sierra High Route in California and Wind River High Route in Wyoming.
Ching: Wilderness or cultural immersion… how do I choose? Diversity is the spice of life!
Q: Where would you like to travel next and why?
Nick: I’ll be running the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge later this year.
Ching: Anywhere I haven’t been yet — that’s where I want to go!
Fun Fact: Both Nick and Ching are very well-traveled. Ching has lived and worked all over the world, in places like Beijing, Hong Kong, New York, and now the Bay Area. As for Nick, beyond his aforementioned hiking trips all over the US, he spent several years working in East Africa and has visited more than 30 countries.
Q: What is your personal motto?
Nick: I love this saying from Shunryu Suzuki: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” It’s a reminder for me to approach the world in a childlike way, with creativity, humility, and a sense of possibility.
Ching: I don’t have one specifically because I’m still learning. I’ll read something I like and it will make me ponder. If you asked my family, they would say my motto is, “give me coffee to change the things I can, and wine to accept the things I can’t.”
I visited Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home in New York last year and this quote of his really struck me, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
Q: Which talent would you most like to have (that you currently don’t)?
Ching: Height! And I wish I had the ability to read people – to read their hearts and minds.
Nick: I speak a second language (Swahili) really poorly. I’d like to get better.
Q: Who are your heroes?
Ching: Underdogs everywhere are my heroes.
Nick: My friend Steve Stucky for his compassion, Carl Sagan for his wonder, Nelson Mandela for his resilience and forgiveness, and President Barack Obama for his hope.
Fun Fact: prior to Summer Search, Nick worked as Executive Director of US2020, a national initiative that was launched by the Obama White House to help close the opportunity gap in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for girls, students of color, and children from low-income backgrounds.
Please leave a comment to welcome Nick and Ching to Summer Search!