Welcome to the Executive Board Elections Portal for the 2021-2023 term.
This portal will serve as the primary home for all information concerning UVSA South Executive Board Elections for the 2021-2023 term. Here you will find information on the candidates, the roles they are running for, the answers to questions asked by the public, and elections procedure. If there are any questions or concerns, please contact [email protected]
Election Preceedings and Speeches
Candidates will give their oral speeches to Leadership Summit 9, followed by discussion within their respective Partner Schools.April 10th, 2021
Voting will run from the end of Elections on April 10th, 2021, to the end of Leadership Summit at 3:00 PM CT on April 11th, 2021.April 11th, 2021
Danny Nguyen (he/him) is a Vietnamese American currently living in Austin, TX. After spending his college years in Dallas, Danny took an unconventional path and chose to follow his passion of acting. He is currently one of UVSA South’s co-CORRs, acting as the bridge between our region and UNAVSA. He has held many leadership positions within UVSA South including Logistics Committee, Family Programming Director, and Executive Director for UVSA South’s Leadership Summit. Within UNAVSA, he has held roles in the Hospitality Committee and was Family Programming Director for UNAVSA’s Virtual Experience- the first online leadership conference within UNAVSA. UVSA South has instilled a strong sense of community and passion within Danny, and is something he wants to pay forward as a member of Eboard. He hopes that in assuming the role of President, he is able to inspire constituents to be strong leaders in any role they’re called to.
- I plan to lead with passion and empathy, to become a pillar for our community to rely on. I will strive to emotionally connect our constituents to the organization, nurture them, and provide them the skills and tools they’ll need to be the future leaders in our community. I will do this by ensuring the Eboard team is always accessible for every member, and create new initiatives within UVSA South based on the constituents’ feedback.
- I want to further progress UVSA South’s strong social advocacy and cultural awareness. To do so, I plan to hold more town halls and online events to provide a safe space for our constituents to process, express, and discuss their feelings about current events that impact our communities and everyday lives.
- I plan to hit the ground running with ideas to reintroduce UVSA South’s in person events. I will utilize my extensive knowledge and experience from Summit, Camp Legacy, and TVVN to ensure that in person events are run safely, smoothly, and of the highest quality.
Matthew Nguyen (he/him) is a Houston, Texas native who graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management Information Systems and a minor in Cybersecurity. He has been involved with VSA since 2016, where he quickly fell in love with the loving communities both at his local chapter and at the UVSA South level. He has served in a number of roles throughout his VSA career, including executive board for TAMU VSA, cabinet staff for UVSA South and UNAVSA, staff for a number of regional events in and beyond South, Programming Director for Camp Legacy 5, and most recently Internal Vice President for UVSA South. VSA became a space that allowed Matthew to grow culturally, professionally, and leadership-wise and he hopes to provide these same opportunities for all constituents in the future.
- Establish closer relations between the Partner Schools and UVSA South and promote higher engagement with the region by solidifying the Presidents’ Council as an official UVSA South entity that focuses primarily on policy, current state of affairs, and overall direction of the region. This will allow constituents to have a greater voice at the regional level.
- Improve upon and solidify current staff onboarding/attendee agreements procedures to ensure a safer community space for all constituents. Ensure that attendees and staff alike are aware of policy surrounding potentially harmful or abusive behavior and agree to expectations set for them as community members before allowing them to operate in the UVSA South space, as being a part of the VSA community is a privilege but not a right. Additionally, provide onboarding training materials that equip staff with the tools and knowledge necessary to navigate and deescalate such harmful situations effectively.
- Cement UVSA South as a comprehensive resource portal for both partners and non-partners, including informational guides on establishing and maintaining a VSA organization, referrals to mental health and civic engagement resources, links to relevant community non-profits and service projects to get active with, etc.
Aysia Nguyen (she/her) is a first-generation Vietnamese American from Fort Smith, AR, and is pursuing degrees in Kinesiology and Communications at the University of Arkansas, where she currently serves as President for Arkansas VSA. Aysia is also currently serving as one of UVSA South’s co-CORRs, where she represents our region at the UNAVSA level. During her time in VSA, Aysia has been involved in various aspects of UVSA South including Cabinet Board, Summit, and Camp Legacy. Through these experiences, she has grown as a leader and as a person in different ways and has grown to love UVSA South and VSA as a whole organization more and more through all the connections and memories she has made. Aysia hopes that she can continue to give back to our community as an Executive Board member and share these experiences with our constituents over the next term.
- Refocus the ICC role to primarily focus on collaborative projects and initiatives between partner schools & UVSA South, as well as provide support for the regional community.
- Create and sustain interpersonal relationships by utilizing one-on-one meetings/check-ins with partners schools/ICCs and Cabinet Board members to bridge the gap between the Executive Board and our constituents.
- Develop workshops to help guide ICCs in different aspects of UVSA South, UNAVSA, and beyond in order to have more valuable discussions that would benefit ICCs during their terms.
- Expand the relationships between UVSA South and its VSA constituents and create more opportunities for networking and leadership development between the two. The increase in communication between will help make both UVSA South and VSA constituents a better safe place to allow the community to grow and provide more input of events going around at the regional level.
- Increase the amount of transparency on significant events in UVSA South, Partner Schools, and in the Asian American community nationwide. This is to promote active awareness throughout the community for UVSA South’s state of affairs and influence the general direction for actions both UVSA South and its constituents. By being more active in learning and spreading information, the community as a whole take a direction to becoming more active and speaking current issues.
- Increase the intraorganizational teamwork between committees, staff members, and partner schools. Promote the collaboration of members to help the spread of ideas and help the development of new ideas and collaborations to come to fruition.
Faris Zuhaimi (he/him) is a Malaysian, who was raised in Dallas, TX. He is currently a senior studying Electrical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics at the University of Texas at Arlington. In the past, he has held many roles within the VSA community including Business and Finance Cabinet for UVSA South, Logistics/Admissions Committee for Tet in Boston, as well as Path Leader for UVSA Midwest. He is also currently on the Programming Committee for UVSA South Leadership Summit 9 as well as the Programming Committee for UVSA Eastern Canada Regional Retreat. With his experience with other regions, he would like to contribute to the growth of the UVSA South Community. In his spare time, he loves to drink milk tea, binge-watch Youtube/Tik-Tok, collect anime/cartoon merchandise, and eat seafood.
Content Warning: I will be briefly talking about Asian Hate Crime as well as Community Misconduct on my platform..
- I would like to slowly transition from a virtual platform to an in-person event. In addition, I would like to connect the newer generations of VSA with the older members through a regional ACE (mentorship) program.
- I want to implement the Safety Protocol Initiative (SPI), which requires all incoming regional staff as well as Eboard to pass an assessment. The initiative ultimately ensures all of our staff to become proactively involved in the welfare of our UVSA community.
- With the rising hate on our AAPI community, I would like our constituents to be proactively aware of every possible path that we all can take for the safety of our constituents, our fellow Asian Americans, as well as our elders.
Vivian Nguyen (she/her) is an energetic, optimistic individual that understands the value of active self-improvement and devoted work ethic. The month following her first UVSA South event, she applied for South cabinet staff where she is currently serving her second term on Event Coordination as cabinet chair. Along with her contributions to UVSA South, Vivian is also a family leader and treasurer for UTD VSA. Her vision for her time in VSA is to give back to her community the same love and positive influence that she constantly receives. Beyond VSA, Vivian strives to be an advocate for mental health, a reliable confidante, and a source of positivity.
- Provide ongoing workshops/resources to inform our members on how to address and prevent burnout.
- Provide a safe space to facilitate discussion of topics involving abuse (physical,substance,etc.), harassment, mental health, and adamantly address issues that arise involving these topics.
- Host workshops to develop life/soft/technical skills.
- Establish and improve upon systems in UVSA South to allow a more consistent, linear process. These systems will take in place to help with providing Partner schools with resources that may be difficult to obtain or understand. It will help with future staff members to easily follow, maintain, and update these systems according to the years. This will help provide lost resources and promote better quality of life experiences when obtaining help from UVSA South.
- Standardized the communication practices and moderating of all public platforms used on UVSA South. This standardization of communications promotes consistent communications between Executive board, staff, and partner schools and increases the spread of vital information throughout the region and at all its levels.
- Create/improve upon ways to release information and resources of all of cabinet board, staff, and partner schools for their needs and positions. With improvement, the resources can be better distributed and accessed for members of the community.
Previously Asked Questions and Answers
Danny Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): Being a part of UVSA South for so long has given me so many great leadership development skills and I’ve always wanted to take on any role that I can to give back and instill the same passion I feel for the org into others! I’ve had to think a lot about what my skills are and what I can provide to this community as an Executive Board member, and I believe that as President I could lead and connect my team with all of our constituents so that we can propel UVSA South forward.
Matthew Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): I started off my college career as by far the quietest, least confident person you’d ever meet at a meeting. It was only because of the openness of the community and how every leader I met through VSA was pushing me to be the best person I could be that I was able to build up the confidence to push past my limits and grow to achieve more for all of the people I was aiming to serve. The organization has given me ample opportunity to grow as a leader, professional, and as a person and I want to be able to provide those same opportunities for everyone else as I truly understand the potential impact that such a powerful community like this can make. Outside of VSA, my pride as a Vietnamese American, my lived experiences, and the perspectives of all underserved communities across the the continent drove me to get active and get passionate about the issues prevalent to our communities for the purpose of inciting change. My past involvement as President of the Asian Presidents’ Council, or the connective network organization for all Asian Pacific Islander Desi American students at Texas A&M, stems from that activism and it helped introduce me to a diversity of of perspectives, backgrounds, and upbringings to temper both my resolve to serve and my knowledge on how to serve most effectively.
Danny Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): I think my proudest accomplishment was when I was Executive Director for South Summit! I think a big sign for me is I had to talk a lot of people into coming back for Summit during my year, they weren’t planning to because they didn’t feel as connected the previous year. Those same people after attending the Summit my team and I put together kept coming back afterwards in positions like staff and family leader and it made me really happy to see that my passion passed on to them!
Matthew Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): My proudest accomplishment as a leader has to be introducing 2 new partner schools (University of Arkansas and University of North Texas) to our wonderful community and in turn introducing all of their members to the fantastic opportunities that we have to offer! Getting to work alongside all of their passionate leaders was truly inspiring and seeing their overwhelming support for the rest of the community has been a true gift to experience!
Danny Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): I believe for a new virtual conference, we will need a new team of staff set in place to handle it. UVSA South has a vast pool of capable leaders that I know can step into the role if given the push and guidance. There may be overlap between staff for this new event and other events, but that will be up to Eboard to make sure they are able to juggle it without getting burnt out or overloading themselves. Ideally I would have all of our events staggered so staff wouldn’t have too much going on at once. In terms of budget, it will need to be a paid for event, like Virtual Experience was, but because it is virtual we will also have a much lower cost than our other events and be more accesible to attendees that aren’t as financially stable. I have experience working on a very tight budget for all committees during UNAVSA’s Virtual Experience and understand the want vs need dynamic in budget decision making. In the end, if the constituents find value in the experience they are given, it will always be worth the cost!
Danny Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): When I think about applying for a position, I take a long time to think about it and commit to applying, but deep down I always know that I’m going to end up doing it anyways. It always stays in the back of my head and becomes all I can think about until I apply and know I tried my hardest to improve upon the position. I feel like my time with UVSA South isn’t ever over, and I am always trying to step up and give my all into the organization that has given me so much. I know my talents for Eboard would be best suited for the role of President, and I want to continue steering this organization in the right direction. A stronger push for cultural awareness and civic engagement, a safe and strong return to in person events, and an inspiration to future generations to take up the mantle after us.
Danny Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): My favorite UVSA South memory has to be when I was Executive Director for Summit 6. It was a year of firsts, first time we were at a new location, first time it was a 3 day event instead of 2. Seeing everyone come together, seeing all of the staff’s hard work pay off, and seeing all of the different emotions the attendees went through that weekend touched my heart. It reminded me why I love the organization so much and reinstilled the fire for my community I’ve had burning for so long. It also gave me confidence that the future of our org was in great hands because I could see that will was passed down and that we were all connected to each other in service.
Matthew Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): Althought it’s hard to narrow it down to just one memory, one that comes to mind was my very first UVSA South Executive Board retreat. Going into my term, I didn’t know what to expect since I hadn’t had the opportunity to work with almostanyone on the board. Luckily, my fears was instantly put to rest from the chemistry we all had as a team. Every single one of the other EBoard members were some of the kindest, most understanding teammates I could have asked for while at the same time we had the most fun bouncing jokes off of each other and overall enjoying each others’ presence. This set the foundation for the rest of the term and they’re some of the best friends I’ve made during my time in VSA!
Aysia Nguyen (Internal Vice President Candidate): My favorite UVSA South memory, hands down, has to be the first Summit I attended which was Summit 6. At the time, Arkansas VSA didn’t exist, so I was the only person from my school/state attending Summit. I only had a hand full of friends that were in VSA and the ones that were in VSA were all on staff. But Summit 6 is where I met the most amazing family (Shoutout to my ElementaLIT fam 💖), made new friends and memories, and was welcomed into the community – almost like I had always been a part of it. Summit 6 was where I realized that VSA and UVSA South was somewhere I wanted to be and a place where I felt seen and appreciated and I wouldn’t be where I am today without that first experience.
Anhthu Tran (Internal Vice President Candidate and Secretary Candidate): My favorite memory with UVSA South is going to my first ever Summit where I met so many amazing people, most of which I am still freinds and connected to this day. We would spend the night in the hotel room talking about ourselves and really connecting with each other.
Faris Zuhaimi (Internal Vice President Candidate): My favorite UVSA South memory has to be my time on the Programming Commitee for Camp Legacy 5. That was my first time with Camp Legacy 5 as well as my first time holding a UVSA position. Moving from an attendee to a staff point of view has shown me a newer yet refreshing perspective of the set-up behind a conference. Seeing how much work had to be put into hosting a conference takes a toll on one’s own lifestyle. However, when those dedicated hours came to fruition, I finally saw the beauty of being on staff. Having ideas is one thing. However, seeing those ideas get to work and be released during the conference is such an amazing feeling. This whole experience with Camp Legacy 5 immediately skyrocketed my VSA journey and made me apply for Cabinet for UNAVSA.
Vivian Nguyen (Secretary Candidate): My favorite memory of UVSA South was during my first South event, Camp Legacy 5. Everyone was handed a laminated badge that we had to carry around at all times. The friend that introduced me to South jokingly took it from me one morning before breakfast and went to turn it in to the camp staff. If you’ve been to camp, you know that if someone turns in your badge you have to “sizzle” in front of the entire camp. When the camp staff read out the names on the lost badges I got up to “sizzle” and my family followed me onto the stage (Grape Juice Fam ily!). Even though it was such a small gesture, it meant a lot to me because I was terrified to just stand in front of an entire crowd of people I didn’t know. I felt so loved and safe with these people who I had only met the day prior and who I now proudly call family. This entire conference gave me the opportunity to meet some of the most welcoming and supporting individuals who I am eternally grateful for.
Danny Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): I think a saying I always stand by is “Your feelings are yours, so they are valid.” I always use this with my teams by making sure I am talking with them one on one frequently and doing mental health check ins and just keeping up to date with what’s going on in their lives so I can provide help wherever I can, or just be a person to console in. Hitting on that empathy with my team helps them get past what they’re going through so they can operate on the task at hand with 100%. I think it really helps keep the motivation of the team up and prevents burn out from overloading themselves and stressing out!
Matthew Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): My leadership motto is to be a friend to everyone you’re working with. Although some might say that you have to separate friendships from work, I’m a firm believer that, at least in the VSA space, you’ll always get the most from your team when you don’t just see them as a coworker, but as an individual person with individual feelings. When you get to know them, what their ideas are, what they’re passionate about, and what they want to achieve, you’ll have a better understanding of how to navigate a team setting with them and what projects they’re most invested in working toward. With every force theres an equal opposite reaction force, so when you care about your peers and what they’re doing, they’ll reciprocate that kind of energy for you and everything you hope to accomplish.
Aysia Nguyen (Internal Vice President Candidate): “Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others” | I believe that the VSA space is a place that gives so many people the opportunity to grow as an individual and as leaders. Whenever anyone takes up a position in any aspect of the VSA space, whether it’s on a local, regional, or continental level, we are all making a mark in our community & are all working towards making it a better one every day. I’m am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to serve in different aspects of the VSA space myself and every time I go and serve in a new position, my biggest hope to come out of that term with a new learning experience and that the team I work with also comes out with one as well. UVSA South is dedicated to cultivating the next generation of leaders for the Vietnamese/Viet-Am community. I believe it’s important to remember that, as E-Board, we should be actively working towards giving opportunities & experiences for our members to learn and grow into these leaders for our community and that begins with empowering each other as a team. Leading a region is not an easy feat, but I am a firm believer that “teamwork makes the dream work” and that when we can learn to work collaboratively and harmoniously with others, we can learn from the experiences we encounter, and the perspectives are approached with from one another.
Anhthu Tran (Internal Vice President and Secretary Candidate): My leadership motto is to lead people to grow into their best potential. I will be incorportaing this into my team by allowing them to solve problems/issues at hand but by providing advice as well. I believe that a team works well together if we are all cooperating together and listening to each others opinions. I will still provide advice and push my team to remind themselves of the end goal. However, I believe everyone can see things differently from others and there is no one correct path to a single problem. I want my team to learn, understand, and use other people’s perspectives and use them to work together as a team.
Faris Zuhaimi (Internal Vice President Candidate): My leadership motto is “Don’t worry about the what if’s. Focus on what has already happened.” For the past two years, a lot (Covid, BLM, etc.) has happened. These events have made us question if we had been more involved civically, socially or even politically, could those events be prevented. However, the real question that should be asked is how can we prevent those events from happening again. That is where my Safety Protocol Initiative (SPI) comes into play. The initiave helps incorporate an assessment, which requires all regional staff to retain the information (S*xual Harassment, Consent, etc.) given during onboarding training. Rather than having to constantly react to tragic events, all regional staff should be proactively involved in the safety of our constituents. Additionally, bi-monthly town halls will be hosted, which gives the community a space for our members to share anything that will improve the region.
Vivian Nguyen (Secretary Candidate): My leadership motto is “Take care of yourself, take care of each other”. I believe that our best work is done when we’re in a healthy mindspace. If we’re not actively taking care of ourselves it is not only detrimental to our physical and mental health but it hinders us from productivity. Additionally, I believe that taking care of each other creates unity in the team and builds camaraderie that also transfers to the rest of our community. I plan to incorporate my motto into this team by constantly reminding everyone and myself that we should firstly help ourselves and then help those around us as well.
Danny Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): Recently I was given the opportunity to be Family Programming Director for UNAVSA. It was an amazing opportunity, and I was working with a team of bright and capable committee members. We were thrown the biggest obstacle of our lives with this pandemic. I honestly didn’t know if I could handle it, I knew nothing about doing anything virtually, I hated to see all of the hard work my team put in already go to waste, and I was afraid that when they needed someone to lean on I wouldn’t be someone they could rely on. When the executive team gave us an option to drop the position, I almost did. What kept me going was the fact that I didn’t want to let my team down. I knew they were looking at me to guide and lead them, that they would follow in my footsteps whichever path I chose. So, I had to shift my perspective, and recenter my focus onto a new goal. Provide a virtual experience that gave the attendees something they could latch on to and connect them to each other in a time where we were all desperate for that social interaction. My team handled my new vision beautifully, and we were able to pull off the first ever Virtual Experience to great success. I know now that, as long as you have a passion and strong vision for whatever position you take, the details and the logistics of it will fall into place. Being clear and decisive with your team and what you need of them, and being an understanding leader to them during their own lapses of mental capacity will inspire your team to do their best in the tasks they receive.
Matthew Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): The biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome this past term was having to deviate from the schedule that we had planned for the year with the spread of COVID-19 across the world. The situation proved both demoralizing due to the amount of hard work from the community that was lost and also overwhelming due to the amount of work that was required to pick up the pieces and establish a new plan in such a short period of time. Working alongside such grounded and passionate leaders helped keep me motivated and ready to adapt on the spot as we were able to explore all of the possibilities afforded to us virtually and build from those possibilities. My biggest takeaway from the experience was the optimism I obtained during such bleak situations, as I now know that anything is possible when you’re working alongside other dedicated leaders.
Aysia Nguyen (Internal Vice President Candidate): I think the greatest obstacle I had to face during my time is the lack of representation and support on my campus for cultural organizations. I currently attend a PWI and at my university, the AAPI community makes up ~3% of our student population. We have always felt overlooked, unseen, and unheard. But thanks to the AAPI faculty and staff on my campus, they helped us students find out voice and the leverage to build our community and unite us to fight for the visibility we have always sought out. Because of the faculty and staff on my campus, they have helped me find opportunities to unite the AAPI organizations in ways we would’ve never thought of before. This helped me become a better leader because I learned and have access to resources and information that I can now share with those around me in order for them and their organizations to succeed in the same ways that other large organizations on our campus are. It also gave me the opportunity and honor to represent the greater AAPI community and share this platform in a way that has never been seen before and share the thoughts and concerns of our campus community to those who have the power to help change campus life.
Anhthu Tran (Internal Vice President and Secretary Candidate): One example was the time whenever I had to deal with my brother’s sudden illness, the pandemic, and balancing academics all at once. I took a step back to recomposed myself. Once I came back, I was able to see things in another perspective. I know that sometimes we can get lost in our work or burnt out. I understand that to be a better leader, is to understand what is going on in your team’s lives and be empathic to any situation they might be dealing with. To understand what is going on in their lifes and to allow them to take a break whenever needed, it really helped me to become a better leader. The team you are working are not people you tell what to do, but more of a close group of friends that work together for the same cause.
Faris Zuhaimi (Internal Vice President Candidate): At the beginning of Covid, my mental health wasn’t at its best. The transition from in-person to virtual took a toll on me emotionally. Even more, I was on cabinet for both UNAVSA and UVSA South. Whereas I would usually prepare ahead for the incoming week, I was trying my best to live day by day. So, the best way I could combat this change is to organize myself. I had to start managing my time with everything going on in my life. I would either use the Sticky Notes App and even google excel to organize my life. This experience eventually help me get me back on my feet. By the end of the summer, I was mentally stable and prepared to go through another wave of UVSA conferences.
Vivian Nguyen (Secretary Candidate): The biggest obstacle I’ve faced in terms of leadership, and one I am currently still overcoming, is my own self-doubt. I hold myself to a high standard and am constantly trying to achieve more as an individual. Because of this, I harshly judge my own work and often feel as though my achievments are insufficient. To overcome this struggle, I try to look at my accompishments in an objective manner and see it from an outside perspective. By doing this, I believe it has made me a more empathetic leader because it allows me to treat the work of others in the same fair manner that I strive to appy to my own work. I understand that we are all human and deserve to be praised for our success and efforts, and I want to help others feel like their achievments are acknowledged.
Danny Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): My talents bring me to the position of President because I am able to recognize the spark of passion in others and fan those flames until their drive is burning bright. I have a strong sense of empathy and am able to utilize that to connect and inspire people. I am a big picture person, I stay focused on the overall goal and vision, and instill that into the team I’m working with from day one so that all the work they do points to that vision. I hope to be a pillar that people can look to and feel confident in themselves and in the organization. I have a vast network of connections all across UNAVSA, and I am not afraid to reach out to and lean on to people when I need help or guidance. I know this isn’t a one person job, and that’s why I am confident I’ll be able to bring out the best in the team I am working with, to be able to set boundaries and expectations, to lead and guide them, to instill a love for the organization and for each other.
Matthew Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): Without making any comparisons between myself and other candidates, I truly believe I have the aptitude, character, vision, and potential to rise to the challenge and accomplish not only my own goals for the region, but also the vision of the constituents whom I am always aiming to represent to the best of my capacity. All of these factors grant me the confidence in my ability as a candidate and I hope I was able to instill that confidence in all voters as well.
Aysia Nguyen (Internal Vice President Candidate): Throughout my time with UVSA South, I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be an involved member in this community in various aspects of UVSA South including Cabinet Board, Summit, and Camp Legacy. I have a great grasp on how the internal operations of UVSA South works & have seen the areas tha are in need of improvement. I’ve also been fortunate enough to serve on a variety of University of Arkansas organizations including as a Ambassador for the University and a Diversity & Inclusion Ambassador with our IDEALS Institute. Through my time and experience, I learned to understand the value and importance of teamwork and collaboration and hope to continue building upon the foundation that has been set within our community. The core of UVSA South is to unite our VSAs within Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma and I want to be the bridge, alongside the rest of my Executive Board, between our members, the region, and beyond. I am grateful to have people around me to support and offer me guidance and I want to be able to offer the same support and guidance for future generations.
Anhthu Tran (Internal Vice President and Secretary Candidate): I believe I am best suited for these two positions as IVP and Secretary as I have a deep passion for South and its community. I have been invovled in South since I was a freshman, and took up more leadership positions when I was a junior. I am organized, hard working, and dedicated. I believe I have great ideas and a plan to obtain these ideas to help better and strengthen South as a whole.
Faris Zuhaimi (Internal Vice President Candidate): I am best suited for the position, because with my internal involvement with other regions, I have gained a deeper understanding of how their region function. For example, my Safety Protocol Initiative (SPI) was designed from my experience with UVSA Midwest and UVSA Eastern Canada. Whereas Midwest inspired me to develop an assessment during onboarding training as a precaution of retaining the information given, Eastern Canada gave me the idea of creating a staff contract, which holds every regional staff for being proactive in the lives of our constituents. Ultimately, my experience with other regions makes me the ideal candidate, because I am able to see in what aspect that the UVSA South could potentially improve on.
Vivian Nguyen (Secretary Candidate): I believe I am best suited for the position of Secretary because I practice and implement many forms of organizational skills in my daily life. I’ve been known to keep thorough documentation of my personal annual budget as well as frequently maintain a color coded calendar. I actively look for new ways to improve my productivity and am constantly applying my personal life organization into my work. I work well with others and even better when I am able to oversee multiple facets of an organization because I enjoy seeing the bigger picture of projects and leadership roles. As with any leadership role I apply for, I commit myself to them in an equally curious and productive manner because I believe that I should be wholeheartedly devoted to the endeavors that I pursue.
Danny Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): I look at my closest friends and I see how engrained into UVSA South I am. All of my friends now I met through VSA, friends that I have a lifelong connection with. My friend Ryan Valdez, who was the previous President, has always inspired me with his commitment to the org and bringing the fun side of things. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have had Lillian Trinh, the current President, as a roommate for the past two years. Seeing her putting her all into UVSA South, pushing for so much needed change, and never seeing her burn out from her duties inspires me to want to continue the legacy of the organization. Through them I know what a massive undertaking President is, but through them I know it can be done as long as you have a strong vision and love for the organization. I know that is something I have inside of me as well.
Matthew Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): My fellow executive board and all of the leaders I had the privilege of working alongside during this term really inspired me to continue to give the organization my full effort. I got to witness them dedicate their time and passion to the organization that they love and I learned so much from the friendships that I developed with these amazing individuals.
Aysia Nguyen (Internal Vice President Candidate): UVSA South is a community full of passionate and driven young leaders. It is truly the members’ love and motivation to be a part of this space and their abilities to create an environment for our next generation that has brought be back here time and time again. I also wouldn’t be where I am today in my VSA journey without the support and encouragement of previous Executive Board members, UVSA South alumni, and my lifelong friends that have endlessly cared for me throughout my entire journey.
Anhthu Tran (Internal Vice President and Secretary Candidate): My mother inspired me to push myself, take chances, and to focus on my passions. She was not able to pursue some of her passions since she fleed Vietnam, and she always stresses to me to dive myself into what I enjoy and to put my best effort into what it is.
Faris Zuhaimi (Internal Vice President Candidate): The connections I have made through my experience in VSA is the biggest factor which inspired me to run for Internal Vice President. As someone who has no Vietnamese identity and still desired to be part of an Asian American organization, I was dedicated to become more involved with VSA, not only in UVSA South but also with other regions. Eventually,, that inspiration led me to apply for Internal Vice President, because I wanted to create a space where Southern constituents can have a meaningful experience on a regional level. Like my regional ACE program, I would like to show our newer generations the beauty and inclusivity of UVSA South by connecting them to the older members of the region.
Vivian Nguyen (Secretary Candidate): There are so many individuals and moments that have influenced my leadership journey but I’ll always remember one thing that was said to me during Camp Legacy. The friend that convinced me to go to Camp came up to me during a tâm sự session and told me “you give me hope for the future of South”. We had only met several months before the event itself and at that point I had never been an official VSA member nor had I held any leadership positions. For her to tell me those words made me feel like I was making an impact I didn’t even know I could have in such a new community. After Camp I was eager to apply for leadership and had so many big goals for myself in South which led me to apply for Event Coordination staff only weeks after. I’ve never given up on my dream to give back to this community and that’s why I want to continue my engagement and apply for this position.
Danny Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): As President, I want to make sure that it’s clear to every individual that the staff aren’t some unreachable workers behind the scenes. I want them to be recognized and accessible to everyone, and that the constituents have an open space for them to come to staff with any issues they have. The staff is there to support and serve the constituents and that will be at the forefront. I want to continue our organizations strong push for civic engagement, and to use the platform to speak up on the issues that are impacting our community. I want to utilize this new digital space we’ve created to hold another UVSA South run event, all digital, to give access to members that aren’t able to attend our in person events. I want to increase engagement with our partner schools and make sure their position and input feel valued. I want to inspire our constituents to continue stepping into leadership roles comfortably, and improve upon our retention of members by emotionally connecting them to the people around them.
Matthew Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): My primary goals include creating a safe and considerate environment for everyone involved with UVSA South, which I aim to accomplish by improving upon current safety measures to minimize risk of situations involving potentially harmful, abusive, or uncomfortable behavior. I also aim to increase transparency between the region and constituents and provide ample opportunity for Partner Schools and their members to express their ideas, concerns, etc. through an official Presidents’ Council, frequent public State of Affairs addresses, and “office hours” from executive board and cabinet. Lastly, I want to build out the resources offered by UVSA South for both partners and non-partners to incentivize partner schools utilizing UVSA South as a resource for their members.
Aysia Nguyen (Internal Vice President Candidate): One personal goal I want to achieve if voted in as Internal Vice President of UVSA South is I want to be able to create an environment within our region that promotes and sustains positivity and safety for all our members. I want to be able to help our staff and members in being able to achieve whatever goals they set and to foster an environment where our staff and members not only feel heard, but seen as well and create a space where our community can always fall back on. To do this, I want to create interpersonal relationships with officers across our region and internally within our own Executive and Cabinet Board. All members of UVSA South are volunteering their time our strengthen our community across South, so I want to make sure that everyone within South has the resources and tools necessary to achieve their organizational goals. To create and sustain these relationships, I would utilize one-on-one meetings with schools/ICCs and board members to check-in on how everyone is doing & to also take the time to listen to any questions/comments/concerns members of organization may have. I would also like to create workshops to help guide ICCs in different aspects of UVSA South, UNAVSA, and beyond and have more valuable discussions that would benefit our ICCs during their terms. I would also like to have a more involved role with our CORR(s) to help them with any internal projects that they may plan during their terms.
Anhthu Tran (Internal Vice President and Secretary Candidate): Some goals I want to accomplish is to create this anonymous complaint form that people in our community can submit their problems so South can provide more of a helping hand, create one-on-one’s with ICCs/Partner schools to talk about more pressing issues, solidify the foundation and stream-line proceeses throughout South to keep it organized and adaptable throughout the years, push for more intraorganizational teamwork, create an index and a resoource portal that is easily access by our Partner schools, and improve upon ways to release sensitive information throughout the region.
Faris Zuhaimi (Internal Vice President Candidate): My first and most important goals is to release my Safety Protocol Initiative (SPI). In the past, during onboarding training, we have always been given information on how to deal with consent, s*xual violence, harassment, etc. However, no guarantees can be made that everyone has retained the information that was given. So, in my SPI, I will implement an assessment at the end of the training, which incoming staff members as well as Eboard will be required to pass with a 100% in order to hold a position in the region. Afterwards, a contract will also be given, which regional staff will agree to abide by South’s guidelines and policies. Another goal of mine is to release a mentorship program, which will connect our older generations to the newer generation. The mentorship program will give the newer generation a vibe of UVSA South. Especially during this Covid times, the newer generation won’t get to experience VSA the exact same way that we used to experience VSA. However, at the end of the day, we are all living here in VSA, making this organization a welcoming place for all who wishes to join.
Vivian Nguyen (Secretary Candidate): Some goals I want to accomplish from my position are to understand South on a deeper level, give back to my community, and grow as an individual. I believe that by working on executive board I can dive deeper into the organization from a behind-the-scenes viewpoint. I find it intriguing to understand the functionality of an organization as big as South and see what makes it so magnetic. What drew me into South was how consistently welcoming it is. To put myself in a foreign environment and be immediately greeted with such warmth and kindness inspires me to be one of those individuals that exudes vibrancy towards others in the same way. I pride myself in putting constant work towards my energy to become the best version of myself as I can and being in this community has allowed me a safe and supportive space to do just that. I know that as long as I’m committing myself to this organization and the individuals in it, I can accomplish my goals and achieve even greater goals.
Danny Nguyen (Presidential Candidate):I have a problem with confronting people when there are issues. In the past I wasn’t as capable of calling a team member out when there is a problem or when they’re not meeting the deadlines I’ve set for them. I’ve been able to tackle this by coming at it from a different perspective. It is important to set boundaries and expectations up front, and by choosing to communicate and empathize with the individual, I am able to understand why they aren’t hitting certain deadlines, and come up with a plan together to help them hit their deadline. Instead of yelling at or attacking them which makes all people involved feel bad, I instead lead and guide them towards what needs to get done. This creates trust and inspires the team members to not want to let anyone down.
Matthew Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): My greatest shortcomings stem from my communication abilities and critcism of my own work. I’ve had a tougher time communicating in a concise and organized manner in the past but I’ve continued to see large personal improvements over the years and I believe I will continually be pushed to improve myself throughout my presidential term. My critical eye when it comes to my own work stems from my desire to achieve the best that I can knowing my own abilities and I believe that it continues to push me to reach for my greatest potential. I’ve also grown to keep myself grounded in this regard during my past term on executive board and learned to stay motivated in spite of it.
Aysia Nguyen (Internal Vice President Candidate): One thing I found myself constantly struggling with is taking on too much at one time. I always found myself do the work myself because I wanted to get it done right away or done in a way that I considered “right.” This is something I am constantly working on and have learned to delegate and ask for help when I need it. We’re all here collectively working towards the same goal of uplifting our community and I’m really grateful to be reminded that I am surrounded by strong individuals who are more than willing to support me in any way they can. No one’s job can be done by any one person. We should all push to help another and to build a network of individuals that can rely on each other.
Anhthu Tran (Internal Vice President and Secretary Candidate): I believe some of my greatest shortcomings is that I understand that I may not be the most extroverted person. As a leader, you need to be able to communicate and relate to the community you are representing. Throughout the years, I have been pushing myself to stay up late to talk to individuals, and to reach out to people I have not talked too in years. Since I was in the situation where I was once the quiet girl, I stress on myself to reach out to the quiet ones and makes sure everyone feels included and to get the most out of the experience. I will continue to push myself to reach out and really bond with the members that make up our community and our schools.
Faris Zuhaimi (Internal Vice President Candidate): With my experiences in VSA, I have always had 2 shortcomings that held me back as an individual: my inability to articulate and my sense of identity. In the past, I used to have difficulty sharing my own voice verbally, because I am not good with words. As someone who has been involved in VSA with multiple positions, I have found that it is better for me to articulate myself. If I say something wrong, then I would like others to call me out on it, because I feel that is the best way for me to grow as an individual. I don’t want to think about the day where something could have been prevented if only I had just voiced my opinion. On the other end, my sense of identity has also held me back. As someone who is not Vietnamese, I sometimes feel isolated or even left out emotionally. Even though the community is so welcoming and friendly, I still feel isolated. However, through my experiences, I have grown to realize that the most important is knowing my reason being here in VSA. No matter how difficult I have with expressing myself or how excluded I feel at times, VSA has shown me that everybody is welcomed here. Thus, rather on focusing on what I can’t change, I want to putting my into what I can do right now, right here as a member of this region.
Vivian Nguyen (Secretary Candidate): I constantly strive to be the best version of myself and an even better leader. I often self reflect and try to improve myself which means I’ve recognized my unfavorable traits and behaviors just as I recognize my strengths. I believe that my greatest shortcoming as a leader is my unreasonable projection of my own expectations. I hold myself to a high standard, constantly critiquing and nitpicking my own work to the point where I find very little to commend myself for. I also take on multiple projects at a time and my work ethic pushes me to the point of burnout sometimes. I find that I occasionally project my expectations and habits onto others, wondering why they don’t function the way that I do in the workspace. I’ve taken into account that this is unreasonable of me when I’m addressing others and it is something I work on everyday and even outside of South. I emphasize and practice empathy and communication in my daily life so applying these virtues to manage my shortcoming is something I will continue actively working on in my potential position
Danny Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): I love our UVSA South discord as a way to connect everyone together. I want to keep utilizing it as a tool to have online chats and gatherings, a place we can chat, watch movies, play games, and study together online. UVSA South Office Hours is also a great thing set up by the current team that I plan to carry on and expand. Moving forward I want to create a new virtual event that is a core part of UVSA South’s events, a place for people to gather online and still be able to connect across long distances. This will be more accessible to the constituents that can’t travel or can’t attend our other events for various reasons.
Matthew Nguyen (Presidential Candidate): Virtual mixers and events organized by CoRR, Event Coordination, and the rest of cabinet have been fantastic opportunities for constituents that aren’t able to travel to interact with the community of UVSA South and they have been a great opportunity to also build up enthusiasm for the region. The smaller scale events have helped constituents stay interconnected beyond events like Summit and Camp Legacy and they’ve been great at showcasing to everyone what we have to offer as an organization.
Aysia Nguyen (Internal Vice President Candidate): As previously mentioned, one of my favorite events that I helped plan with my co-CORR this year was our mixer with Gulf Coast. Being able to have the capacity to host these events virtually has been extrememly helpful during the pandemic has help connect our members to one another, especially during a time where are all so disconnected. Hosting these mixers internally & externally with other regions is something to carry on with other regions over the next two years. I believe that by having these small, intimate events with one another builds and maintains these relationships and gives us the opportunity to learn from each other’s regions!
Anhthu Tran (Internal Vice President and Secretary Candidate): I want to keep having virtual events, especially to strengthen our connections and relationships with other regions. I know it is difficult to have out of region people to fly in to due to cost, time, or other factors. I want to keep the door open for these people to experience what South has and to allow our members to network and experience people from all over North America.
Faris Zuhaimi (Internal Vice President Candidate): After the pandemic is over, I would like to maintain workshops on an online platform. As South is a region consisting of different states, workshops are ideal to continually be hosted on an online platform, because the information given can easily be given through a Zoom call. For example, if a mental health/advocacy workshop is hosted online, then constituents from Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas can all attend the event. At the same time, I would also like to continue having social media takeover. As the society are rapidly being accustomed to social media, having this space will ensure that all constituents will easily have their questions answered. Even more, you may not have considered a question asked by another constituent. However, the information may still serve as some significance to you, too.
Vivian Nguyen (Secretary Candidate): What I would like to see after the pandemic is over is the continuation of online events to help bring our regional constituents together, and hopefully expand to other regions as well. Within Event Coordination I’ve helped with pen-pal-type projects such as VSAMates and Quarantine Connections, both of which are aimed to provide an online space to bring together the members of our community despite the distance the pandemic created. With these projects, it gives constituents a chance to stay close to their peers through a safe space that fosters socializing and deeper connection. I think these projects have an amazing goal and I would love to further develop them to become a lasting form for connectivity between our community.
Aysia Nguyen (Internal Vice President Candidate): I believe this solely comes from stepping out of your comfort zone, which is something I am extremely comfortable with doing! While I may not be able to attend all in-person external events, I will always always ALWAYS make the effort to and make sure that our partner schools know that they will always have UVSA South’s support for their events. I also believe that this is where the virtual aspect of the pandemic is helpful because you can support the schools no matter where you are. I will always be more than happy and flexible to make a GM virtually or send in a video on behalf of South to show my support for our schools and their events and I will always be more than happy to help the schools promote/provide resources and information so that they may plan the best event possible!
Anhthu Tran (Internal Vice President): I plan to going to talk to each schools individually, especially with the new anonymous and check-up system I want to implement. I want ideally meet many of the partner school’s members whether it is online or in person. I want to attend in person many external events that the partner school’s host, to the best of my ability especially during a pandemic. Ideally, I would try to drive/carpool going to these in-person external events to provide my presences and to get to know more personally the community I am helping.
Faris Zuhaimi (Internal Vice President Candidate): (we revised the question when we sent it to him to read Oklahoma and Arkansas schools) As someone who is living in Dallas, TX, I am capable of visiting each partner schools in less than 5 hours. The time to drive to UArk is as much as the time to drive to UTSA, which is only 5 hours. Putting that into perspective, attending external events is easily accessible. However, the most important part to consider is ensuring that every partner school has a data to showcase their members. If two partner schools were to have external events on the same weekend with a huge drive in between, then that would play a significant role in how other constituents can attend. Before Covid hit, the Baylor Lunar Moon Festival was hosted the day before the UTA date auction. Even though there was a large number in attendance for both events, the time dedicated to VSA by our members impacted their academics. So, whereas attending external events is significant, ensuring that time is being allocated in between every partner school’s external events is even more important.
Aysia Nguyen (Internal Vice President Candidate): I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to help my school (s/o to Arkansas VSA! WPS BABY!) become an official partner school with UVSA South this year! Having gone through this process, I feel that there are a variety of things that can be done differently in order to educate and encourage schools within our region to become partner schools. First, we have to extend support for those schools who wish to become a partner school. We can do this by reaching out to active VSAs within our region and introducing ourselves to them and ask them to meet one-on-one. By simply offering our support and encouragement, allows for the door to be open for schools to feel more welcomed into our community. It gives them the gateway to ask questions, become more curious about the process and allows us as UVSA South to offer them the opportunity, if they so choose to become a partner school. I believe this also eliminates the intimidation and pressure from other schools and allows the potential partner schools to raise their questions and concerns to E-Board in a more private manner. Also, I would want to implement more one-on-one meetings outside of normal ICC/Presidents Council meetings with potential partner schools in order to make sure they are on track to becoming a partner school by their observation periods. By tracking their progress, this gives them the opportunity to ask questions/help/resources/information as needed from UVSA South and allows potential schools to see their progress as an organizations and build upon the progress they have made.
Anhthu Tran (Internal Vice President): I want to support potential schools by helping them out with the process, give them opportunities to talk to other partner school’s VSAs to ask them how did they achieve partner status, and giving any feedback that is needed so that they can improve upon.
Faris Zuhaimi (Internal Vice President Candidate): I would like to support them with resources that can help them reach to the minimum requirements of becoming a partner schools. Right now, we have non-partner schools at Oklahoma State University, Texas Women’s University, etc. If I mention how UArk and UNT was able to reach where they are today, those potential schools can learn from our partner schools, finding their own way to partnership. What works for other partner schools may not work for the potential schools, but you will never know until you try. I will always be available as a resource for the potential schools who wants to become partner schools.
Aysia Nguyen (Internal Vice President Candidate): One of my platform points is to refocus the ICC role to primarily focus on collaborative projects and initiatives between partner schools & UVSA South, as well as provide support for the regional community. This would also include supporting the incoming President with the official installation of the Presidents Council to focus on UVSA South’s state of affairs and well-being of the organization and our partner schools. By having ICCs primarily focus on these collaborative projects, it also gives them the opportunity to work more with the UVSA South Cabinet Board (CORR, Event Coordination, Community & Civic Engagement, etc.) in order to execute these projects and gives them a bigger role within UVSA South All-Staff. I believe this will give ICCs a better look at the internal workings of UVSA South as an organization and is a great learning experience/resource for the ICCs to share with their own VSAs.
Anhthu Tran (Internal Vice President): I want to give ICC’s more events and opportunites for collaboration between schools. I also want to create more workshops that ICCs can attend to learn more about what is going on in current affairs. I also want to create one on ones with ICC’s that talk about more serious issues that their school/community may be dealing with.
Faris Zuhaimi (Internal Vice President Candidate): Over the course of the past year, I have noticed mutliple partner schools moving at very different pace in membership retention/involvement. As even seen at this Leadership Summit, besides UNT with 30+ attendees, each of the other partner schools has less than 10 members attending. Also, many other factors does come into play like timing, pricing, etc. Nonetheless, these numbers show that membership involvement is even more significant. So, to counter this factor, I would like to create a space where partner schools can share their methods. What does not work for another partner school may actually work for a different partner school. In addition, I would like the ICC’s to slowly start planning in-person events by the time Spring hits. From now till Winter, I would like to organize a virtual regional game night, which will be very similar to our Summit’s rotational games. Unlike the game night currently being hosted by the Event Coordination team, I would like this competition to have a prize system, which will potentially bait more members to attend.
Faris Zuhaimi (Internal Vice President Candidate): As someone who has attended the past 5 virtual external conferences (NELC, SELC, NW, Socal, and LS), I have met a variety of attendees. Even though I wasn’t equally involved and engaged, I was able to experience how one virtual conference can have a huge impact on attendees. Even more, I was also able to experience how each region is so unique in its own structure. For example, whereas Socal is coming out of a hiatus by hosting their virtual conference, SELC showcased the festivities of the Southeast Region. Sometimes it is even difficult to distinguish the region, because I tend to see the same group of people at different conferences. Now, in terms of VSA positions, I have honestly been more involved out of region compared to in-region. Like recently, I am on the Programming Committee for UVSA Eastern Canada, Path Leader for UVSA Midwest, and Logistics/Admissions for Tet in Boston. All of these experiences are so diverse. One focused on reaching out to different people, another focused on being emotionally vulnerable to my kiddos, and the last focused on having video editing skills to make promo videos. Whereas I did love stretching out myself and doing a variety of things, I went a step beyond and got to know the people I was working with. The time I had working with these amazing individuals in these positions were limited. So, the best we can do is cherish these amazing moments.