APASA is excited to announce one of our APA leaders, Matt Weisbly! Matt has been involved in USC Nikkei Student Union, MixedSC, and APASS.

Read more about Matt and his impact on the APA community in his interview below!

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What does being APA mean to you? 

Being APA to me means not having to say sorry, not being apologetic of our culture, history, languages, and differences. But instead celebrating what makes us unique and different, and sharing that with everyone else. It means having fun, eating the foods we love, and the drinks we can’t get enough of. It means making memes and watching videos about being APA and being part of clubs, organizations, and groups that celebrate it and help us thrive. It doesn’t mean it’s always east of course, sometimes it takes a while to really discover who we are and what APA means, but we find it eventually. It’s a part of ourselves that never goes away, and never will, but it makes us stronger and brings us together.

Explain your involvement in the APA community.

My involvement in the APA community is both on and off of campus. Here on campus, I’ve worked hard to help our students with resources and getting to know their place on campus through my work at APASS as a student worker and a TA for the CIRCLE Program. I’ve also done work with USC Nikkei and Mixed SC to help students learn about their heritage, history, culture, and hardships that occur in our community, while also celebrating ourselves. Outside of school, a lot of my work is with the Japanese American community helping remember the injustices that happened and helping to make sure they never happen again.

What advice do you have for aspiring APA leaders?

For up and coming APA leaders, I’d say don’t be afraid to do what you love and try whatever it is that interests you. Find that community, that calling, that passion that drives you and fight for it. We all have something that drives us, that we want to do, and help others see or learn about or simply to make friends and expand our community. Find that calling, find those people who want the same things you do, and build on it. Make our community a better place and expand on those who came before you and those around you who want to help. Being a leader isn’t about you, it’s about the people around you and being there for them to grow together.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave at USC?

Leaving USC, I just want to have helped make the experiences here for people an enjoyable one. Whether they’re friends I’ve made for life or members and students who I’ve only met once or twice. I want them to have fun and remember the times they had, the friends they made, the experiences, and hopefully help someone else find that too. I hope I’ve done that in at least some small way

Who/what inspires you? 

My inspiration come of course from those who came before me. My father and his family, Jewish immigrants who fled persecution in Europe at the turn of the century. But had family left behind to face the horrors of the Holocaust. My mother’s family that came from so many different places. My grandfather, who was incarcerated alongside 120,000 other American’s of Japanese Ancestry. My grandmother, who was the daughter of a Chinese immigrant who went on to become one of 8 Chinese American lawyers and the first elected to a state legislature in 1946. As well as all the community leaders who fought to make sure our communities, our history, and our stories never disappeared. I do everything to help share their stories so that others can keep and share them too.