Christine Lee is a third-year undergraduate student at Duke University, where she is studying Public Policy, History, and African/African American Studies. She was born in Memphis, TN, and is interested in AAPI issues/representation, racial justice, postcolonial feminist theology, and ethnic studies programs. She is also passionate about creating spaces for Asian American Southerners to continue to develop the growing narrative of what is means to be an Asian and Asian American in the South. She is currently involved in the Asian Students Association, ECAASU (East Coast Asian American Student Conference) 2017, the Asian American Alliance, Asian InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and the Asian American Studies Working Group at Duke University. In her free time, she likes to run, bake, and tag people in wholesome memes.
Jessie Huang is a sophomore majoring in Management & Society and Global Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jessie moved to North Carolina at the age of 7 from southern China, and it was not until college that she was introduced to the concept of "Asian American" and found it to truly be an identity that she felt at home in. Jessie is currently the Vice-President of UNC-CH Asian Students Association, an opportunity that has allowed her to support and learn from the AAPI community at her university and its surrounding areas. Jessie is also involved with ECAASU and UNC-CH's Outdoor Education Center. Jessie is deeply interested in educational equity and the experience of immigrants within the American education system. Her other interests include backpacking, photography, YouTubing, and eating.
Joann Ma is a graduating senior studying in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing at NC State University. She focuses her studies in international affairs, business management, data analytics and marketing strategies. She was born in Guangzhou, China but moved to the United States with her family when she was 10 years old. She is passionate about filling the gap between international students and American students as well as encouraging Asian-Americans to embrace our identities through exploring and promoting cultural diversity. She is currently involved with ECAASU (East Coast Asian American Student Conference) 2017 and Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority, inc. (the first Asian-Interest, but not Asian-exclusive sorority at NC State). She was involved with Chinese Undergraduate Student Association, Chinese Student and Scholar Friendship Association, Asian Student Association, Union Activities Board at her university in hopes to promote student diversity. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, watching people play scary video games, thinking about the great time she had when she was studying abroad in Beijing, watching live performances and attempting to cook.
Samantha Lin is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is studying Computer Science and Entrepreneurship. She was born in Augusta, Georgia and is interested in highlighting minority voices and stories, especially within the AAPI community. Samantha was active within the AAPI community at UNC-CH, becoming president of the UNC Asian Students Association as a sophomore where she led initiatives to increase awareness on the importance of politicization, create safe spaces that encouraged discussion among students regarding topics that affect minorities, and build communities that support those exploring a variety of intersectionalities. Samantha also was the conference director of the 2017 ECAASU (East Coast Asian American Student Union) conference, helping bring over 800 students from across the East Coast to North Carolina to discuss AAPI issues. Outside of academia and AAPI-related interests, Samantha enjoys hiking, watching and learning about film, and watching competitive food competitions.
Cara Davis is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is studying Psychology hoping to go into social work or become a school psychologist. She is from High Point, North Carolina, the furniture capital of the world, and is interested in AAPI identity and representation. She is also interested in how identity relates to mental health and access to healthcare services particularly for marginalized communities; she is very passionate about providing language and resources to disadvantaged communities. She is currently involved in her sorority, Kappa Phi Lambda, and the Vietnamese Student Association at UNC. In her free time she likes to photoshop her friends into memes, browse the newest memes, cook, and nap.
Helen Yang is a Chinese American sophomore at Duke University, pursuing a double major in Linguistics and Political Science with a minor in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. She holds a strong fascination with humanity. Through languages, power, and culture, she sees an important outlet for revolutionary expression and explores academic intersections as a way to explore herself. She serves as the Vice President in Duke International Association, the Internal Vice President of Spoken Verb, the Chief of Marketing for Oculogx, and is involved in planning ECAASU (East Coast Asian American Student Union) 2017, as well as general involvement in Duke Debate, Asian Students Association, and the Asian American Studies Working Group at Duke. Focusing on the misrepresentations of AAPI and the societal, psychological, and economic violence that arises in consequence, Helen aims to educate and raise awareness on intersections of identity and to amplify the unheard voices of minority communities through storytelling and activism. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, spending time with her little brother, reading, embroidery, and psychoanalyzing television characters.
Aamir Azhar is a Junior at Duke studying Computer Science, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, and Documentary Studies. He identifies as half-Pakistani and half-Malaysian and identify as Muslim American. His rich ethnic background has led him to both confusion in his identity as well as given him a deep understanding and experience of what race is, especially in America. He is passionate about educating others about race and racial structures in America and internationally, and dismantling oppressive practices and systems with social activism, discussion, and expression. He is involved in the Duke Muslim Students Association, is active in the Asian American community, and has led workshops on topics such as Islamophobia and racial structures in America. He hopes to further learn how to educate and inspire others, learn from the people around me and develop his own identity further, and organize politically and socially for progress and equality.
Kevin Cao is a first-year undergraduate student at UNC Chapel Hill, where he is studying economics and computer science. He identifies as a second-generation Chinese American and was born in Raleigh, NC. He is interested in advancing the AAPI dialogue and bringing it to public attention, especially because it often isn’t taken seriously or goes wholly unheard. His interest in Asian American social activism led him to join the Asian Students Association as an events planning assistant at his university, and the East Coast Asian American Students Union as a board of directors intern. He enjoys spending time with his dogs, canoeing, and listening to music during long drives.
Hospitality & Registration Chairs
Anu Basavaraju is a junior at Duke University. She created her own major called “Nature, Nurture, and the Neuroplastic Self” in which she tries to understand how others’ expectations defines our own sense of self and how we can use neuroscience as a tool for understanding and solving social issues. She is passionate about addressing the importance of media representation of AAPI communities and how the media plays a role in the perpetual nature of stereotypes. She is currently involved with Duke University’s Diversity Inclusion Task Force and a self-directed research study that examines the neuropsychology behind discrimination against Brown individuals. In her free time, she likes to avoid existential crises, write, and catch up with friends.
Olivia Zalecki is a sophomore at NC State University where she is studying Political Science with a concentration in International Politics, and Foreign Languages with a concentration in Mandarin Chinese. She was born in Hunan, China and grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is interested in fostering a deeper understanding of transracial adoption within her communities as well as learning more about AAPI issues. She is a member of many groups at NC State including the Caldwell Fellows, Adopted Student Union, University Scholars, St. Jude Up ’til Dawn. Olivia hopes for a future career involving international relations/politics in order to help facilitate mutually beneficial policies and conversations between East Asian countries and the United States. In her free time Olivia loves binge watching Youtube makeup tutorials and pug puppy videos.
Michael Chiang is a student. He is a son. He is a basketball fan. The list of descriptive items that another person could use to define him goes on and on. Yet, if he were asked to describe myself, the items that would be at the top of his list would be: He is an Asian American, he is a learner, and he is a friend. And what he long for is to fulfill a sense of purpose to myself, as well as those around him. The fulfillment could be derived from simple tasks like buying food for a friend, or from grander, more prolonged engagements. But mostly he want to serve the purpose of making society a better place for us all–and to have a good time doing it.
Nikita Gawande is a third-year undergraduate student at Duke University, where she is majoring in Economics and Public Policy with a concentration in Finance and a minor in History. Born in Chicago, Nikita grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, an incredibly diverse place that’s juxtaposition with Duke and North Carolina has shaped her identity, reactions to it, and ability to discuss it immeasurably. Outside of TAASCON, Nikita is a tour guide, involved with the Duke Student Government, and a member of Scale and Coin, a business society on campus. In her free time, she enjoys brunch, travel, and reality TV of questionable social benefit.
Thomas Chen is a Junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studying Physics and Chemistry while on a pre-med track. Before going to UNC, he lived in Cary, NC, where he was first exposed to AAPI issues. He is passionate about increasing AAPI representation in media, and fighting for healthcare equity and equality, especially for underrepresented groups. He currently is involved in the 2017 ECAASU Conference, and enjoys playing piano, listening to music, and watching movies whenever he can.
Tyler Lian is a first-year studying math and computer science at Duke University. All his life, Tyler grew up in Connecticut, so he is excited to experience new culture here in North Carolina. Tyler is a first-generation Chinese-American interested in exploring the interaction and intersection between the AAPI community and other marginalized communities. On campus, he is involved in Duke's Asian Students Association (ASA) and the Citizenship Lab at the Kenan Institute of Ethics. In his free time, he likes to snack, read The Onion, and try to exercise every now and then. He is excited to be a part of TAASCON this year!