School: MSB ’15
Major: Finance and Marketing
Minor: (Potentially) Biology
Reppin’: Gettysburg, MD
Tagline: Not your “typical” MSB student
What are your past and present campus involvements?
Co-President of the Asian-American Student Association (AASA) alongside Sophia Weng, Vietnamese Student Association (VSA), Leaders in Education about Diversity (LEAD) and Young Leaders in Education about Diversity (YLEAD)
I identify as Vietnamese-American so I decided to join this cultural organization to continue to understand and develop my heritage and identity. I served on the Executive Board for both my freshman and sophomore years. However, I would currently consider myself an ally.
Why is that?
I realized that, in order to be an effective leader, I had to choose between all of the organizations that I was a part of and I chose AASA, because I felt l could do a lot more there.
I joined AASA in Fall 2011 as their Freshman Representative and have been an active member ever since. In my opinion, AASA has a different mission as both a political and community organization; we focus on more than just the cultural perspective of what it means to be Asian-American. AASA mostly attracts Asian-Americans, but there is diversity within the Asian-American community. One can view us as a melting pot of cultures and peoples from diverse backgrounds who come from all over the country and around the world.
Favorite AASA Event?
Hands down, I have to say Fall Ball. It is held at Georgetown in November to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIH), which is actually in May.
The goal of AAPIH month is to celebrate a community. Do you believe that there is an Asian “Community” here at Georgetown?
I believe that the Asian Community “comes and goes”. It truly depends on the year and the individuals in that year. I would say that individuals in my year, the class of 2015, are pretty close; either we know each other or we know of each other. The only way that others will feel that sense of community is if we all make the conscious effort to put ourselves out there and welcome them into our community. I have noticed that historically Asia Fest (our annual cultural showcase) is not as open as Rangila. This year, we seek to increase diversity at our events.
Well for me, LEAD is forum to discuss our personal identities and the identities that we interact with. We function as mediators in politically-debated discussions, such as the Affirmative Action Talk between AASA and the NAACP last year. I was more involved in LEAD during my Freshman and Sophomore years. I also did the pre-orientation program YLEAD, so that was my introduction to talks about diversity and identity at Georgetown. I came from a racially-diverse public high school, but as a “LEADer”, I was confronted by other forms of diversity and other identities that I was not previously familiar with. LEAD stressed open-mindedness as an important skill to build a cohesive community through constructive conversations.
It sounds like you experienced a new culture when you came to Georgetown. Describe the Georgetown Culture from your point of view.
It seems that Georgetown has too many student organizations that care about the quantity of events that they put on more than the quality. Last year I saw a documentary about Georgetown culture: Sleep When You’re Dead. The truth of many of the claims bothered me.
I wish the Georgetown community as a whole would cut back on programming to support other organizations and put ourselves in others’ circles! We should strive to be men and women for others!
Put ourselves in others’ circles… I couldn’t agree more! Do you get the feeling that Georgetown is diverse?
Coming into Georgetown, at face value, my first perception was that it wasn’t as diverse as I expected. I found diversity in conversation and involved myself in discussions spanning a range of topics, from religious pluralism to accessibility for differently-abled students. Hoyas are diverse, it simply takes a moment to recognize the marginal identities that make us different and unique. I must say that the institutional incorporation of diversity may not be as successful as the brochures depict. AASA held an discussion this past Fall about ethnic cliques where we prompted attendees with the question: Why do you gravitate toward people that you are comfortable with? We also looked at other on-campus organizations and wondered: Where are the minorities in The Corp and the Georgetown University Alumni & Student Federal Credit Union (GUASFCU)? There’s an underlining idea of exclusivity that needs to be confronted.
What I wish someone would’ve told me as a Freshman: These wise words of Father O’Brien, “You’re a much more effective person when you cut back on some of your responsibilities and focus in on one goal. Don’t spread yourself too thin by getting too involved.”
-Claytia Gonsalves, Freelance WriterRecommendations for a Georgetown student that should be on our next Student Profile/Senior Spotlight? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org