UA Alumni Stories
The UAAA wants to hear from you! Are you or a fellow alum doing great things? (STEM, Fine Arts, Athletics, Education, making the world a better place, etc.) Please submit your story below.
UA Alumni Stories
Cindy Tang (she/her)
UAHS Class of 2018
The UAAA was so excited to connect with Cindy and ask her a few important questions.
Please describe your notable achievements at Upper Arlington High School.
As a proud member of the Class of 2018, I was heavily involved in many projects and student organizations while at UAHS. Beginning my sophomore year, I joined Culture & Diversity club and discovered an opportunity and an imperative for change within the district. Going on to become a student leader of UAHS’ annual Culture Fair, supporting the district’s Cultural Competency Professional Development, and, today, serving as a member of the district’s inaugural Equity Advisory Board, I have found continued purpose and drive to do what I may to foster belonging for all students in UA.
During my junior year, I had the privilege of joining two incredibly formative communities: Upper Arlington Idea Day (UAID) and Speech & Debate. As a member of UAID’s inaugural team, I worked closely with a dedicated and entrepreneurial group of students and mentors to put on UA’s first iteration of Idea Day. This team and I still connect often to this day. On the Speech & Debate team, I had the privilege of learning from and training with a group of incredible peers and coaches, making it to the State Tournament twice in my two years of competition.
As a graduating senior in 2018, I was honored to speak as my class’s Cum Laude speaker. The opportunity to reflect, share, and connect with so many members of my class was truly an invaluable experience.
Please describe your college / career experiences.
Currently, I am a continuing third-year student at UC Berkeley pursuing a B.S. in Business Administration from Berkeley Haas, a B.A. in Sociology, and a minor in Human Rights. Over the past two years, I have had the privilege to serve as a Resident Assistant and, presently, as President of the Berkeley Forum, a non-partisan student organization that brings notable speakers to campus. Some of the most notable speakers I have had/will have the opportunity to hear from and meet are 88Rising founder Sean Miyashiro, Olympic gold-medalist Natalie Coughlin, and infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Continuing the pursuit of my passion in the Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity (EID) space, I have served as a member of the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Student Diversity Project’s Student Advisory Board and am presently the Internal DEI Lead within Berkeley Haas’ student government. In both of these roles, I continue to question the status quo of EID processes and operations as I seek to support the institutions and places I love in becoming spaces students of all communities can thrive in.
Career-wise, I have held a strong interest in the intersection between people and business and hope to continue this pursuit post-undergrad. I have held two previous internships within the Human Resources realm and am presently pursuing management consulting in my next steps forward. I eventually hope to obtain a graduate degree in Public Policy to further my potential impact in both the public and private sectors.
How did UA Schools prepare you for success?
As I continue to learn and grow with each year of college, I unceasingly value the relationships built and lessons learned while in high school. I continue to dream big and lead with both my heart and my mind and have become increasingly confident in my ability to incite positive change. Daily, I leverage my toolbox of skills such as public speaking, time management, empathy, and collaborative entrepreneurship that I gained throughout my various high school endeavors and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to grow so much in UA.
In mindset and in practice, I am drawn, again and again, to Madame Julia Voegt-Brooking’s words from my sophomore year: that ignorance is not bliss, and that when we see inequity around us, we must seek action to create change. In my go-forward, and I encourage any reader the same, I will continue to critically assess the status quo, seek new ways forward, and keep hope and joy top of mind in whatever I pursue.
UAHS Class of 1999
Giving back has always been a part of Erik Yassenoff’s life growing up in Upper Arlington. During his time at UAHS, he was a proud Eagle Scout in Troop 417, he received the Youth Career Development Award, and he received the Tri-Village Rotary Youth Leadership Award. During his junior year, Erik was a Congressional Page, appointed by Congresswoman Deborah Pryce. When he was not involved in public service, he spent his time as part of the UAHS Marching Band and was a member of the UAHS Tennis Team.
Erik received his B.A. in Political Science and History at The George Washington University and is a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He continued on to The Ohio State University where he received his M.A. in Public Policy and Management. After graduation, Erik continued his passion for service as Special Assistant for Business and Industry under Governor Bob Taft, Assistant Director of Policy for Asset Management to Governor John Kasich, and Deputy Director for General Services at the Ohio Department of Administrative Services. Erik is President and Owner of CPR Solutions, a public policy consulting firm, and Vice President of Rainbow Development, a commercial real estate firm. Local to Upper Arlington, he served two terms on the Upper Arlington City Council and was Vice Chair of the Upper Arlington Centennial Commission. He is a member of the Northwest Kiwanis Club and Upper Arlington Historical Society. Additionally, Erik has served on the Upper Arlington Commission of Aging and the Upper Arlington Community Improvement Committee, among other community organizations. He also proudly serves on the Simon Kenton Council of the Boy Scouts of America and is a 32nd Degree Mason.
Erik recently moved to Granville, Ohio, with his wife, Elizabeth, and children, Ella Jane and Thomas. Elizabeth, a graduate of Denison University, has always wanted to live in Granville. Despite no longer living in Upper Arlington, both remain involved and committed to his hometown community.
Currently, Erik is the Chair of the Upper Arlington Centennial Veterans Committee. This committee has overseen the Veterans Plaza Project that is under construction on the Jones Mallway. The UAAA asked Erik how the Upper Arlington Schools prepared him for this important and impactful community project.
“An important part of my experience at the Upper Arlington High School was the sense of community and responsibility to not only be an active member of the community, but also to give back to the community beyond Upper Arlington. We are all blessed to have been raised in Upper Arlington and to have received a high-quality education at the UA High School. It is a privilege to have had such enriching opportunities.
Realizing this truth, there are two paths one can take: support the community that gave you such opportunities and foster future leaders there, or take your experiences and seek to improve the broader global community. My path went both directions. For twenty years, I have worked in public policy to improve the lives of people at the federal, state, and local levels. My local work was focused on Upper Arlington.
The Upper Arlington Veterans Plaza project was a part of my local service to the community. Since September 2001, every community in Central Ohio had either upgraded their veterans’ memorial or created one, except for Upper Arlington. We had a veterans’ memorial that had not been enhanced since its creation in 1946. It was the sense of community and responsibility that my years at UAHS instilled in me that motivated me to lead the effort to create the new Upper Arlington Veterans Plaza. The Plaza will be a testament to the sacrifices made by so many UA residents for years to come.”
Darin Hadinger '93 and mustER
"One of the best things is being able to reach back into UA and find amazing friends and resources from different years to work on this project. It is great to see how our Golden Bears are coming together!" –Darin Hadinger, CEO mustER
Darin Hadinger is a firefighter, a disaster relief worker, a designer and engineer of pollution-control technology, a renewable energy entrepreneur, an advocate for veterans, and a warrior of restorative and social justice. Darin Hadinger is a class of ‘93 Upper Arlington alumnus. While in high school, he faced financial hardship and lived alone because of changing family circumstances. Though he had to work full time at Wendy’s to make ends meet, Darin managed to take AP classes, fondly remembering many teachers, including beloved English teacher, Dr. Allen. He says,
"I was fortunate to have some great teachers that I can still name. Some were more like mentors. I was an exchange student, twice with Herr Gill's class, to Germany, which changed my life. I had a good education. It wasn't easy though. I had a lot of external challenges beyond living. Learning how to handle stress and balance priorities while also recognizing that even in a great school with a lot of great resources, people still can struggle for lots of reasons. Learning how to adapt to that likely helped prepare me for what came after."
His path has never been easy nor straightforward, but it has made him uniquely positioned to respond to some of the challenges central to the Covid-19 pandemic. It has led him to the design and implementation of mustER. In military terms, to “muster” is to “assemble troops in preparation for battle.” mustER, similarly, is a company focused on assembly in preparation for battle, though one of a different kind. Daren shares that,
"mustER is a company of disaster response, engineering, logistics, and governmental affairs professionals that serves the community needs during a time of crisis. We build and provide a proprietary mobile medical hospital and housing that is self powered and can be set up anywhere and deployed in under a day. These units accommodate approximately 80 people each and are engineered and built to CDC requirements. They can be reused and repurposed for any response or mobile resiliency situation."
The battle now, of course, is against the virus that has disrupted our well-being and economy. mustER units can be assembled anywhere within hours, using cleaner resources, creating less environmental impact, and costing a fraction of the price of a hospital ER. While it is a valuable answer to the needs of hospitals overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients, its application extends well beyond. Whether it is in response to a blackout, a natural disaster, or a population of people who lack adequate access to healthcare, mustER units fulfill an important gap in medical care. This is why international companies are looking to move this not only across the U.S. but also into areas of Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, and beyond. The company is currently completing the patent process, and the first unit will go out within the month.
Darin attributes the success of mustER to his incredible team, which is diverse in specialty, background, and thought. This team includes other UA alumni, some of whom he had kept in touch with over the years. Some, he connected with through current teachers in the district as well as through Leadership UA and IDEA Day. One such alum is Tarik Yousof, class of 2001, who has developed an emergency ventilator. These ventilators will be a feature of the mustER unit.
Finally, mustER is intentional in its social impact, employing people, such as veterans, the formerly incarcerated, and underserved populations, to build the units. Darin says, “I truly hope that anyone who works with us will stay aligned with our company. At the end of the day, if they find their purpose in doing this for a while and then are inspired to drive impact elsewhere, that is a win.”