APASA is excited to announce our second Senior Spotlight: Tiffany Chen! Tiffany has been a part of APASA as an intern, Co-Recruitment Director, and this year's Assistant Director. APASA would definitely not the be same with Tiffany!
Read Tiffany's interview below!
What does being APA mean to you?
Someone (who was quoting Jonathan from APASS who in turn was quoting Frank Wu) once told me that Asian Americans are made not born and that has always stuck with me because it just made so much sense. For much of my upbringing I was so confused as to where I belonged or fit in – was I Asian or was I American? It never felt right to say I was distinctly one or the other. Now I know being Asian American doesn’t mean I have to choose one but that I am both. It is an identity that permeates into everyday life – it meant that growing up I brought mac n cheese and lunchables for lunch one day and chow mein and postickers the next.
I believe every Asian American is on a journey of finding out what being Asian American means to them, and everyone’s journey is different. For me, a lot of my APA journey was learning about community. Being Asian American isn’t just an identity to me, it is about hearing the shared collective experiences of other APAs, their strife, and how do we collectively fit together with one another and with the world as a whole. Being APA meant finding that community of individuals who knew me better than I knew me and who supported me through my own journey of growth and discovery. It was laughing and sharing stories over dim sum or a bowl of noodles. So in sum, being Asian American means to me a journey of figuring out how you merge two different identities and also finding that community that will support and guide you throughout that sometimes difficult process.
Explain your involvement in the APA community; and specifically APASA?
I am mostly involved in APASA, and throughout my 3 years I have been an intern, Recruitment Director, and Assistant Director (aka I have pretty much touched almost everything APASA has done). I was also a PEER mentor with APASS, and previously was in CASA for a year.
What has been your favorite part of APASA?
APASA constitutes not just its own eboard and events but also the larger APA community at USC and other various APA related organizations. And my favorite part of APASA has honestly been seeing the sheer amount of reach that we as a community has. Without APASA, I would have never witnessed all the great things that other organizations are doing like SCAPE’s InspirAsian or TCD, Kazan Taiko, and Haneulsori’s showcases. I am constantly amazed by the sheer passion and dedication that others bring to their respective organizations and communities, and their enthusiasm has made me appreciate my own culture as well as other Asian cultures so much more.
I have also made some of my closest friends in APASA. Being with APASA eboard and interns, I got the chance to know some of the most wonderful people out there. Retreat has been by far one of my top memories at USC, and I loved getting to closer to everyone and learning about other people’s stories.
What kind of legacy do you hope to leave at USC?
Honestly, I hope to have even made an impact on one person at USC in the sense that I was a part of their journey of growth and discovery. I wanted to encourage people to learn and that they will continue to explore. I also hope that I have helped create strong communities that will continue even after I leave.
As a graduating senior, what advice do you have for underclassmen?
Something I wish I did more of was was to make more time for friends. So my advice would be to really set aside time for your friends and for your relationships. There will always be another homework assignment and another test, but at the end of the day, it is your friends and the people who will really matter and remain after you graduate. Also to be genuine in your relationships and interactions. That could be as simple as just listening and being there – sometimes just listening to someone could mean more than you think and you could learn from them more than you would expect.
And also you can’t do the above without first taking care of yourself as well. Take the time to listen to your own needs and give yourself time to rest. Remember that you are also important and worth it, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you ever need it.
If you could give a Ted Talk, what would it be about?
Feeding yourself in college for when you don’t have a lot of time and don’t know how to cook very well
Tip #1: After you finish a bowl of pho when eating out, you can save the broth and boil your own noodles at home for a second meal. :)
So many people have been so important to me during my time at USC and I would just like to take a quick moment to thank them. To Lorna, Vivian, Ted, Michelle, Sarah, Gabe, Andy, and everyone in APASA – you are the people who have literally shaped who I am today and have showed me what it means to be Asian American. I am so inspired by all of your strength and I am so grateful for all the lessons you have taught me and for you all being in my community. To Cayla, Peter, and Hailey – you are some of my greatest and closest friends. You all have been there for me through some of my hardest times/rock bottoms, and shown me what true compassion is. To my sister Sylvia and my mom and dad – your sacrifices and your love have kept me grounded and continued to push me to be the best I can be. I honestly wouldn’t be here to today without you and I am eternally thankful for all of your support and guidance.