Sam Tang, '87, was celebrating two important milestones in his life - his 25th wedding anniversary and his UCLA Anderson 25th reunion. Wanting to do something special to mark the occasion, he and his wife, Tammy, established the Tang Family Endowed Fellowship.
In Sam's eyes, it was a fitting gift. "One of the reasons Tammy said, 'yes' to my proposal was because I was getting my MBA. I think she figured I'd be a good provider," he jokes. Now the Tangs are giving their gift, two years of financial aid, to future MBA students.
"I think it's especially nice to give to your alma mater," Tammy says. "I remember my father telling me that education is a gift no one can take away from you. You'll always have it."
The Tang Family Fellowship's confluence of family, education and philanthropy adds personal impact to the act of giving. "It's not just giving the money. It's also sharing our time and maybe even a little of our talent," Sam says. Tammy agrees. "It's so personal," she says. "We get to meet Hallie [Preston, '15, the inaugural recipient of the fellowship.] We get to see how UCLA is going to benefit her life. It's a gift that keeps on giving."
At UCLA Anderson, Sam remembers being impressed by the caliber of the students. He was captivated by their boundless optimism, their fearlessness. "Everybody believed they could do anything. Nobody was afraid to try anything," he says. He found their high spirits infectious. "You started thinking you could do anything, too."
Sam's part in that ebullient possibility, however, began on rocky footing. A close friend, Perry Mizota, '87, had also applied to UCLA Anderson, and it was a sad day indeed when Mizota got his acceptance letter in the mail - and Sam didn't. "I felt terrible," Sam jokes. He can laugh now, because his acceptance came shortly after.
After graduation, Sam joined The Shidler Group, a private equity firm focused on finance, insurance and real estate companies. At Shidler, Sam rose to managing partner and was instrumental in taking several companies public.
Today, Sam manages Pacific Life's private equity portfolio and is co-founder and principal of Montauk TriGuard Funds, a private equity venture.
Sam credits his time at UCLA Anderson for helping him achieve as much as he has. "Tammy and I have always been grateful for the opportunities that were available to me because of my Anderson MBA," he says. "I feel fortunate to have done well, and along with that comes a responsibility to give back."
Through the Tang Family Fellowship, Sam and his wife have found a way to reconnect with the high spirits of UCLA Anderson students while lowering the financial barriers some may face. After all, education is a gift, and one they can help give.
"I feel fortunate to have done well, and along with that comes a responsibility to give back."