“I know how hard it is to adjust to the United States and the way of life here,” says Paul Foo, BN’00, an immigrant from Malaysia who came to Drake to study finance investments and marketing. “It is not an easy task.”
Since graduating from Drake in 2000, Foo has worked as a financial planner at MassMutual in West Des Moines. Today he has a thriving financial advisory practice where half of his clients are immigrants like himself.
Daniel Herting, JD’11, traveled to China for a fellowship after completing law school at Drake. He says adjusting to the new culture was more challenging than he imagined, and he was incredibly grateful for the people who helped him adapt, including Zixuan Yang, who is now a Drake student.
“I was so fortunate to have her help while I was in China,” says Herting. “I knew I wanted to find a way to repay her for her help.”
Herting now runs his own firm Herting Law in Des Moines, which provides many services for immigrants in Iowa.
The Perfect Pair
When Foo met Herting through a mutual friend, the two quickly bonded over their Drake education and learned they both cared deeply about immigrants and the issues they face. The two have combined their skills and passion to help immigrants transition to life in central Iowa. Cyndi Chen, a visiting instructor at Drake, caught wind of their efforts and jumped on board.
The result was the birth of Next Step Immigration, an organization that helps immigrants in Iowa find access to professional services, so they can lead successful personal and professional lives.
“Paul and I ran a few brief seminars during the summer providing general information about estate planning, and they were wildly successful,” says Herting. “Just providing that basic information about the planning options available was clearly something that people needed to know more about; it was a very rewarding experience.”
Herting says he’d like to see the organization start expanding their offerings with more networking events, a greater online presence, and partnerships with other service areas.
“I became a lawyer because I wanted to help people, but in other areas of my practice I sometimes feel my work is focused only on the day-to-day problems,” says Herting. “With Next Step Immigration, I really feel like I am helping with long-term success—both for individuals and for the community.”