“Yee Thao (she/her/hers) is a first-generation Hmong American womxn born and raised on traditional Nisenan Land (Sacramento, CA). She obtained her Bachelors at CSU Sacramento with a double major in Anthropology (Culture, Language, & Society) and Ethnic Studies (Asian American Studies). Throughout her undergraduate career, she worked alongside many empowering Hmong and AANAPISI organizers trying to dismantle the oppressive systems that impact folx with a community history of displacement and forced migration. Her work is rooted in fostering communities who ground themselves in love, care, and abundance while propelling themselves towards transformative change — sowing the seeds of a movement where resilience is not the immediate product of surviving oppressive and exhaustive systems, but rather, through a shared power of love, healing, and liberation. In her time at UCLA, she hopes to blend her passions of serving disenfranchised and underserved communities into a multifaceted fold of racial equity, language justice, youth representation, mental health and equal/accessible education. In particular, she strives to deepen her understanding in Gender, Migration, Hmong diaspora, and Organizational/Grassroots Leadership. In her free time, Yee enjoys spending time with family by solving jigsaw puzzles! Some of her hobbies include photography/videography, collecting succulent plants, writing poetry, and eating (especially sticky rice and corn)!
Amber Chong (she/her) is a second generation Vietnamese-Chinese woman who grew up on Tongva land, also known as the San Gabriel Valley. Prior to pursuing the dual MA in Asian American Studies and Masters in Social Welfare, she studied Politics and Asian American Studies at Scripps College, where she learned from and continues to draw inspiration from feminist abolitionist organizers. At UCLA, she hopes to collaborate with other Southeast Asian community members to envision decolonial and anti-ableist frameworks of health. She is interested in strategies that solidify emotional support and interdependence within communities and divest from the medical industrial complex by challenging traditional notions of care. In her free time, Amber enjoys watching films with loved ones, indulging in a sweet treat, and soaking up the sun in nature.
Marina Aina (she/her) is a mixed-race Sāmoan woman who grew up on Cahuilla and Luiseño land in Southern California. She completed her undergraduate studies at Pomona College, receiving her B.A. in American Studies. She strives to better understand how American militarism impacts Pasifika peoples (and more specifically how pervasive the militarization of American Sāmoa is for Sāmoans, both on and off the islands). In her free time, she enjoys trying new foods, reminiscing about media from her childhood, watching anime (or claiming she will get around to it), and seeing more movies to improve her odds at winning Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. She will be starting her first year in the Asian American M.A. program fall of 2023, so she hopes to add exploring UCLA’s campus (to reduce the chance of getting lost) to the list of things to do during her free time.
Angelina Karnsouvong (they/she) is a first-year M.A. student. They received their Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Berkeley in both Ethnic Studies and Public Health. They are a second-generation Lao and Khmu refugee from Richmond, CA (Chochenyo Ohlone land). Their research intends to focus on the intersections between race and health, as they seek to open up conversations about and decolonize notions of health, rooting them in culture, self-determination, interdependence, and restorative healing, especially in communities like their own that struggle with issues of trauma, war, and lasting grief. They are especially passionate about the concept of diversifying narratives and being the teller of one’s own story, which influences a great deal of their work in research, community organizing, and creative spaces. In their free time, Angelina enjoys writing, drawing, building Legos, spending time with friends, and reading wiki articles on niche topics.
Anou Vang is a first-generation Hmong American who was born and raised in the Central Valley. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Asian American Studies at Fresno State. Through her experiences serving underserved communities, she has found her passion for helping individuals learn more about mental health. During her time at UCLA, she hopes to collaborate with Southeast Asian American communities to see how their upbringing, culture, and education affect their views on mental health and their likelihood to reach out during a crisis. She is especially interested in addressing the gap in research and literature for Hmong Americans in the United States. In the future, Anou would like to return to a higher education institution to help support marginalized communities thrive at their campus. She is a proud Gryffindor who enjoys the outdoors, painting, baking, and listening to Studio Ghibli Lofi.
Maya Sinha (she/her) is a first year graduate student in the Asian American Studies Master’s of Arts program. She graduated from UCSB this past year with undergraduate degrees in Asian American Studies and Data Science and Statistics. Through her experiences as a mixed race person of Chinese and Indian ancestry, Maya became drawn to the identity negotiations of mixed Asian and Asian American individuals and multicultural, hybrid communities. She hopes to complete her Master’s thesis on the roles of women on either side of transnational Bengali merchandise networks in 19th century North America, especially in the communities where Bengali men were forming interracial relationships with African American women. In her free time, Maya runs, cooks (and eats), reads, hikes, and enjoys as much company as she can through it all.
Joshua Luo (he/him/his) is a first-generation Han Chinese immigrant who moved to the United States at the age of 14 from Beijing, China. He graduated from Hampshire College in 2022 and holds a degree in East Asian and Asian American Studies. As a first year MA student in Asian American Studies at UCLA, he is primarily interested in the intersection of Sinophone/Chinese and Uyghur diaspora politics and culture in North America, with a particular emphasis on the possibility for decolonial and anti-imperial solidarity against multiple empires in the context of escalating US-China tensions. In his spare time, he enjoys reading sci-fi, playing roguelike video games, and collecting very very old computer keyboards.
April Yang is pursuing her MA in Asian American Studies and MSW at UCLA. Her research is focused on gender-based violence against women in Hmong American communities. She received her BA in World Arts and Cultures and Asian American Studies from UCLA in 2015. She has worked primarily in the public sector with underserved and underrepresented communities in her hometown, Sacramento, CA.
Esther Se Bin Kim (She/They) is a 1.5-generation Korean-American from San Francisco. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Humanities and a minor in Asian American Studies at UCLA in 2020. She is currently a first-year graduate student pursuing an M.A. in Asian American Studies. Her research focuses on investigating currently existing methods of promoting educational equity within the University of California system for undocumented East Asian students, while also examining the legal and socio-cultural nuances that comprise the seemingly paradoxical experience of being both East Asian and undocumented. She is passionate about grassroots organizing and mutual aid work, specifically on unhoused advocacy and food justice. In her free time, she enjoys powerlifting, binge-watching anime, listening to true crime podcasts, and mindlessly scrolling down her Tik-Tok For You page.
Ghaliah Fakhoury (she/her) is a first-generation Arab American taking the next step in her academic journey as part of the Asian American Studies MA program. Her research primarily centers Arab/West Asian diasporic communities in the U.S. As a child of the Arab diaspora and in the wake of 9/11, rather than shying away from her Arab heritage, Ghaliah found herself tightly grasping onto it — specifically through Arab music. Inspired by her own experience, Ghaliah’s research explores how music roots displaced peoples, and music as a connection to self and homeland. Prior to joining the Bruin family, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a minor in Ethnic and Women’s Studies/Gender and Sexuality Studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. In her free time, Ghaliah enjoys discovering music from around the globe, being out in open spaces, surrounding herself with family and friends, indulging in tasty eats, iced coffee, and savoring moments of joy.