“The opportunities here are boundless, but if we want to make the most of it and build ourselves personally, academically, and professionally, we need to be able to take initiative. We need to be okay with failure sometimes, stay learning, and keep pushing forward in order to develop our individual characters as student leaders. My biggest piece of advice is to be ready to advocate for yourself and if you see an opportunity, take it.”
What are you involved in on campus and what meaningful experience has come from those involvements?
“On campus, I am a member of a number of RSOs affiliated with the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center including Filipino American Student Association (FASA), Micronesian Islands Club (MIC), and Khmer Student Association (KhSA). As a former Pipeline Project tutor and current officer of API Cares About Mental Health, I think the most meaningful experiences came from holding leadership roles. I learned technical as well as practical skills that ranged from simple tasks like writing emails and reserving spaces for events, to speaking and presenting to large crowds of students, outreaching to the greater Seattle community, and having deeper conversations with other community leaders. Although it was a steep learning curve, it helped develop my character and leadership abilities in all other aspects of my time as a Husky.”
How did you decide on your major, since you’re still a freshman?
“After realizing that pursuing STEM wasn’t what I wanted, but more of what others wanted from me, I reflected on my own upbringing. I am majoring in Education and American Ethnic Studies because I grew up in a system that failed to reinforce my self-worth as a person of color in society. Rather it made me feel as if there was competition between other minority groups to succeed and made it so that we had to fight each other just to survive. TRiO Upward Bound was what kept me from becoming another statistic in high school and has helped put me in the position I am in now. In the end, I hope to come back to the Hilltop and East Side of Tacoma as a TRiO professional, continuing the movement to empower our youth so that they too see themselves as scholars and leaders.”
How was your transition to UW?
“Not a lot of people from Tacoma have the opportunity to come here. When I got here, I wasn’t doing very well at all, academically and mentally. I felt alone on a campus of over 45 thousand. Quickly I learned that finding community was imperative to my success and mental health at UW. Going out to a Khmer Student Association meeting where I knew maybe two people or a Filipino American Student Association meeting where I’m not even Filipino, I didn’t expect to meet the group of friends I have now nor did I expect to have some of them as coworkers either! I felt really alone and isolated, so when I found the ECC and the RSOs I’m involved with now, I found a community, a support system, a family that I could really rely on. Like many others, the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center (ECC) has become my home away from.”
What does a day in the life look like for you?
“Every day is planned out for me. Mornings, I have an 8:30, so I wake up at 7:00 or 7:30 and get to class. After that, I’ll study for an hour then go to my next class. I’ll then have a meeting or two, go to my next class, then go to my meeting for my internship where I’m a legislative intern for the Southeast Asian Education Coalition. After that, I’ll have a snack. I’ll study for a couple of hours, then go to the IMA for an hour. Then, I’ll go home, study, and shower. Last night I went to sleep at 2am. Classes, meetings, and studying.”
What advice would you give to incoming freshmen or transfer students?
“One of my coworkers, Caleb, had a really good analogy about small colleges versus big colleges. If you’re at a small college, it’s more like a sit down restaurant where you have a menu of select options and a waiter comes in to serve you. At a larger university like the UW, it’s like an all you can eat buffet. The difference is that at the sit down restaurant, everything is served to you, everything is already there and you just have to pick. But at a big university, the opportunities are endless, just that you have to go up and get it yourself. The opportunities here are boundless, but if we want to make the most of it and build ourselves personally, academically, and professionally, we need to be able to take initiative. We need to be okay with failure sometimes, stay learning, and keep pushing forward in order to develop our individual characters as student leaders. My biggest piece of advice is to be ready to advocate for yourself and if you see an opportunity, take it.”