Self-Awareness by Kingson Leung

Kingson Leung is the Associate Director, Marketing and Programs at Associated Students.  In this latest and final Spartan Voice by A.S. Blog, Kingson shares his story on Self-Awareness, one of eight Core Values in the Associated Students Strategic Plan. Read more about our organization’s values in the A.S. Strategic Plan here.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” — Carl Jung

In the busyness of the day-to-day as a member of this beautiful San Jose State community, have you ever taken a quick moment to stop to ask yourself a simple question like, “Who am I?” 

The question in itself is broad and perhaps may elicit a greater reflection of the various experiences, identities, relationships, roles, positions, jobs, volunteerism, course of study, etc. that make up who you are and what you mean to the Spartan Community. As we near commencement season – whether you are early in your academic journey, close to graduation or reading this at any time in between – it is always an opportune time to reflect on who you are, how much you’ve grown and in what ways you can make the most of your experience before you graduate. 

The value of “self-awareness” held by Associated Students (A.S.) is deeply rooted and aligned with the concluding excerpt in our Mission Statement, i.e., “to prepare students as they move towards a thoughtful and purposeful life after graduation.”  

“What We Know Is a Drop, What We Don’t Know Is an Ocean”

Constantly in my higher education experience, I am reminded “You don’t know what you don’t know…” which holds true when I was an undergraduate student and even many years later as a staff and faculty member. In a learning environment where we are constantly striving to continuously improve and evolve our knowledge, skills, and abilities, new doors open as we gain higher levels of awareness. 

It has long been studied and postulated that students who are most involved with campus activities will become more successful academically and feel connected with higher levels of self-efficacy and belonging. (Source: A.W. Astin., Student Involvement Theory, 1984). If you are made aware that involving yourself at various levels consistently would help you through college, would you take the chance to be more involved? We sure hope so and are here for it! 

How does the A.S. cultivate and live out the value of “self-awareness” in what we do? Three main ways you can connect with A.S. are working with us, volunteering with us and engaging with us as part of our programs and services. 

  • When you work as a student assistant in one of our many departments as a part of A.S. such as Marketing, Transportation Solutions or Child Development Center, we invest in your development to practice transferable skill sets that can be used in your course of study and/or professional life. 
  • If you volunteer in one of our varied programs such as the Community Garden or as a student-at-large in an A.S. Committee, you get to intentionally work in teams that strengthen your personal leadership skills to develop your own voice in serving for a greater purpose. 
  • Lastly, if you’ve utilized services or attended events we offer such as the use of Clipper Cards, printing from our Print & Technology Center, or engaging  events like Fire on the Fountain, all of these programs are specifically designed to support and enhance student social and academic needs. 

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” — Maya Angelou

With the gained awareness of just a glimpse of our resources, is there anything keeping you from taking advantage of what Associated Students offers? If your response to this question has any form of self-talk that starts with “I can’t ____ (fill in the blank),” change the beginning of that sentence to “How can I _____ (fill in the blank)”. Your future alumni-self will thank you for shifting your thinking into a possibility mindset. 

As you go about filling the unwritten pages of your story, keep expanding on your many campus experiences. Doing so will not necessarily change who you are but rather allow you to be more yourself. Just that now you will have more awareness, tools and stories to share. Applying yourself will push you to grow and be more prepared and developed for a meaningful life after you graduate from SJSU. By then, when you stop and reflect again on the question of “Who am I?”… it is our hope that your self-awareness would have brought you to a place where you are proud of not only your accomplishments but also the journey and process you’ve taken to get there. 

Inclusion and Openness by Nina Chuang

Embracing My Inner Tigress Through Associated Students
by Nina Chuang, A.S. Vice President

One of my favorite activities is getting hot pot. It’s the best way, in my opinion, to gather our community — friends and/or family — to share a meal, spend time together and enjoy each other’s company. Being a huge lover of food, it was a no-brainer that I chose, in my first year, to go into Nutrition and Food Science. I loved attending classes to learn about the biology and chemical makeup of the food we eat. 

However, there was a missing piece in my college experience: There wasn’t what felt like a home for me on campus! As a commuter student, I would wake up at 5am to take the 181 VTA bus from Fremont to San Jose. From the moment I step foot off the bus, I walk to the MLK, Jr. library. I would study for a while, attend class, and go back to my usual spot on the 4th floor of the library. By the time the evening hit, I would attend Spartan Wushu club training to reignite my passion for Chinese martial arts. 

And it remained the same routine: library, class, library, class, library, Wushu. Then it was time to leave campus to take the last bus back to Fremont, hoping for a smooth ride without any complications. 

My Stripes and Identity
My parents immigrated to the United States to pursue higher education. I am Taiwanese and Malaysian American. Being from a mixed East and Southeast Asian background, I grew up going to Chinese school on Saturdays, and large family gatherings on Sundays. I had the privilege of being raised in an area filled with diverse backgrounds and in a community that prioritized exposure and knowledge about one’s culture. 

In this Chinese New Year of the Tiger, I can’t help but think of my tiger stripes. My stripes are steaming bowls of curry and Laksa on my Malaysian side, and delicious oyster noodles and braised beef on my Taiwanese side. The patterns of these stripes include making paper lanterns and eating Mooncake during the mid-Autumn festival, to wearing Qipao and Nyonya dresses during Chinese New Year and multicultural festivals in school and other places.

My tiger stripes include struggling to speak another language to family across the globe, in my broken ABC (American Born Chinese) Mandarin. My tiger stripes are my Taiwanese grandparents who grew up in the midst of a war and struggled through their education. My tiger stripes are my grandmother, who advocated for the right to education for Chinese Malaysian children. 

My tiger stripes taught me the importance of knowing my heritage and representation. They make up my striped coat of experiences, memories, nuances, and stories.

Inclusion & Openness
Joining Associated Students, SJSU, has helped shape me to use my stripes to advocate for inclusion and openness. 

I joined the A.S. Academic Affairs committee my sophomore year as the College Representative for the College of Health and Human Sciences. Through this committee, I learned the importance of having a seat at the table. I brought my perspective as a CHHS student in the discussions about advising, programs, and student success. 

This committee role motivated me to run on the A.S. Board of Directors and subsequently serve as the Director of Student Resource Affairs in 2020-2021. I then had the privilege of speaking with a variety of liaisons and campus partners about student resources and academic success. In addition, I served on the Academic Senate that same year, working with faculty, staff, and administration to represent the student voice in shared governance. 

Currently, as A.S. Vice President, I continue to serve on the Academic Senate, chair the biweekly A.S. Board of Director meetings, and help the Board work together at in-service events and training. 

Breaking the Silence
Through these experiences, I grew empowered to speak up about global and local issues in the community. In the past two years, the violence against Asian communities has risen to shocking and heart-breaking levels. 

From March 2020 to February 2021, there have been 3,795 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents. But this is not the beginning of the history of anti-Asian hate in America. It started from the Chinese Massacre of 1871, Chinese Exclusion Act, the Watsonville Riots of 1930, Executive Order 9066, to the violence and hate against South Asian Communities after 9/11. Our SJSU history was involved in Executive Order 9066, where the Uchida Hall Boys Gym in the early 1940s served as a processing center for Japanese Americans before they were forced into internment camps.

In 2021, after continually hearing devastating news about the violence against members of the Asian Pacific Islander Desi/American (APID/A) community, I had the privilege to use my platform in A.S. to elevate the efforts surrounding APID/A Spartans. 

With event planning, professional and leadership skills put to work, I have collaborated with various groups on campus to host events that represent and advocate for Asian communities in these dark times.

I helped organizations plan Meet & Greet events, rally on campus, write letters of support addressing healthcare disparities, and meet with folks across campus to discuss APID/A Student Success. 

Together, with your support, after more than 20 years of advocacy from the SJSU community, we were finally able to foster an additional Student Success Center for the Asian Pacific Islander Desi/ American community.

Thanks to your support, we were able to stage the APID/A community Lunar Year Welcome with Lion Dancing on 7th Street and pass a Letter of Support for the Lunar New Year Day Act, which would federally establish Lunar New Year as a Federal holiday. I also had the amazing privilege to introduce Shang-Chi actor Simu Liu and Assembly member Evan Low in our Fall 2021 Spartan Speaker Series. I also have the extreme honor of being your 2021 Homecoming Royalty and Queen (you know I had the rep the Qipao).

Home at Associated Students, SJSU
Associated Students is a place where all backgrounds and cultures are welcome. We empower one another to advocate for our communities, for accessibility, and for ourselves. These experiences taught me the power in inclusivity and having an open mind. Openness leads to connecting with people with different experiences and new ideas. Without openness, it can be difficult to see where inclusivity is needed.  Everyone must be given a seat at the table to carry out the Associated Students’ Mission: to support and represent the students of San José State University by continuing the organization’s legacy of student advocacy and leadership; to enhance SJSU students’ education through high quality programs and services; and to prepare students as they move towards a thoughtful and purposeful life after graduation.

I was empowered through the skills I gained through A.S. and the leaders around me to give myself a seat at the table. As the first African-American Congresswoman Shirley Chrisholm said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair”. 

I encourage you as we grow as leaders in our communities, to have the openness to include and bring that folding chair to the table, excuse yourself or share your seat to uplift others’ voices or bring your own when you see a missing seat at the table. 

My favorite seat is the Asian folding stool though. Which seat is yours?

P.S.: I wanted to give a shout out to the amazing ladies I have the privilege of working alongside in the A.S. Executive Team! Anoop Kaur, A.S. President and Maritza Molina, A.S. Controller: You inspire me everyday to keep learning and growing. <3

Equity by Anoop Kaur

ਲਗਨ ਕਾਮਯਾਬੀ ਦਾ ਬੂਹਾ ਖੜਕਾਉਂਦੀ ਹੈ ਅਤੇ ਕਾਮਯਾਬੀ ਜ਼ਿੰਦਗੀ  ਦਾ ਮਕਸਦ ਪੂਰਾ ਕਰਦੀ ਹੈ ll
– ਜਸਵੰਤ ਸਿੰਘ ਕੰਵਲ
“Devotion knocks on the door of success and success fulfills the purpose of life.”
– Jaswant Singh Kanwal

 FULL CIRCLE MOMENT 💫
Equity in Higher Education
By Anoop Kaur (she/her)

What’s up, Spartans! As we slowly ease back into a new “normal,” Associated Students and I would like to welcome you back to the Spartan Voice blog, a new initiative started by our Director of Communications, Gerard William Pablo. This blog’s purpose is to communicate and clarify our organization’s values and for you, the readers, to get to know us better. I am excited to showcase more of our Spartan voices, but first, let me share my journey…

As someone with the privilege of pursuing higher education, I wanted to run for President to become the representation I sought out when I first came to San José State University. As a Woman of Color, I did not see myself in this position of leadership as A.S. President. But life, my ਕਿਸ਼ਮਤ (kismat) has led me here. My hope, at the end of my term this May, is to help more women and People of Color to feel inspired, seen and empowered to become movers and shakers in our communities.

Associated Students (A.S.) has changed my perspective on higher education, opened my eyes to new experiences, and helped me understand how I can better seek transformative change: from shifting virtually in pursuing our degrees, working during a pandemic, running a student-led non-profit organization, to learning behind-the-scenes work that powers higher education. A clear example of this is the advocacy work done by the 2019-2020 A.S. Board of Directors to fight for the credit/no credit option and seeking maximum flexibility and understanding of students’ circumstances during the pandemic which re-established my faith in leadership through compassion.

By finding myself in a position of leadership, I am able to help make visible the issues that some find invisible. I invite you all to think about the ways in which you could increase awareness about your community issues. In my position, I have been able to put a spotlight on issues that others would have perhaps ignored.

I am always impassioned by the focus on equity that I see from all of our A.S. departments. Staff and student assistants from our organization have the wellbeing of our students in the front of their minds. A.S. provides services that impact the daily lives of students, some of whom are the first in their families to attend college, low-income students, student-parents, commuter students and many more. Every student can be supported and/or impacted by services provided by Associated Students.

Thanks to past and current community-wide advocacy, we were able to foster many existing centers as well as the soon-to-be launched Student Success Centers for the Asian Pacific Islander Desi/American and Native American/Indigenous communities. These spaces on campus give me hope that SJSU is moving in the right direction and will continue to work towards creating a holistic and positive college experience for each and every student.

Being in the CSU system, equity is at the core of everything we do. A.S. in particular highlights a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds. Everyone deserves a chance to own their college experience and gain access to opportunities. Through conversations with my classmates and friends, I have seen firsthand how job opportunities and child care services through A.S. supports financial burdens and develops vital career skills. We offer scholarships and book vouchers to support student needs as well. In collaboration with 2020-2021 Director of Sustainability, Jocelyn Jones-Trammell, we created the A.S. Pursuit of Black Excellence Scholarship. As an organization we also continue to fund Recognized Student Organizations who can apply for $2,700 annually to finance their programming, initiatives and events. Our mission, plainly stated, is to advocate to build a better, safer, and more inclusive community to unite us all. As President & CEO, it is my honor to carry out this mission and represent the needs of all 36,000 SJSU Spartans.

I commend your resilience and commitment to being a Spartan despite the many challenges we have all faced. We are here to support and uplift you in your college journey. I encourage you all to take advantage of the resources available to you: get involved, take positions of leadership where possible, and build connections.

Starting as a student-at-large four years ago to now being President, I can vouch for the value of getting involved by taking advantage of research, student organizations, centers on campus, mentorship opportunities, and through A.S programs, events and services. I wish you all a meaningful college journey as fulfilling and memorable as mine!

A little business info for you: Associated Students (A.S.) is a 501(c)3 non-profit auxiliary organization whose vision is to strengthen the Spartan community through access to opportunities that inspire educational growth, personal development and innovation. While maintaining a voice for SJSU students through student government, A.S. also provides other unique services and activities to enhance student life and the broader community. With a $9 million budget, we advocate and maintain the student voice through the A.S. Board of Directors and operate nine departments, including seven student-facing departments: the César E. Chávez Community Action Center, Child Development Center, Events, General Services Center, Print & Technology Center, Student Government, and Transportation Solutions. All of our departments provide essential and distinct services to our campus. Visit sjsu.edu/as for more information. To connect with the A.S. Board of Directors and student government, visit sjsu.edu/as/boardhours.

Social Justice by Diana Victa and Alejandra Romo

CELEBRATING SOCIAL JUSTICE ICONS CHÁVEZ, HUERTA, AND ITLIONG
A Call to Action for Civic Engagement and Advocacy

On Thursday, March 17, the Cesar E. Chavez Community Action Center(CCCAC) will celebrate its inaugural Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong (CHI) Day. The three individuals who went on to inspire many others during their lifetime are the root of the celebration and inspire us every day at the CCCAC. CHI day will be an annual celebration where we not only celebrate but, more importantly, call to action their legacy.

To understand the importance and significance of CHI day, we have to understand who the three individuals are and why we are celebrating it. The conditions in which farmworkers have worked in has never been fair but the fight for their rights was initiated by all of these monumental figures in history. In 1966, Filipino members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee joined forces with Latino members of the National Farm Workers Association to form the United Farm Workers (UFW). With leaders such as Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong, they pushed to mobilize farm workers to advocate for more equitable policies, such as immigration reform, pesticide protections, heat standards, hazard pay, and other worker protections. CHI saw farmworkers as essential to the reason food, the staple of everyday life, is on our table.

Some of the UFW achievements include the first contracts to provide rest periods, drinking water, toilets, hand-washing facilities in the fields, the banning of pesticide spraying while workers were in the field, and protective clothing to guard against exposure to pesticides. In the fight, Chicano and Filipino farm workers united to become one of the greatest forces in history.

At the CCCAC, we find inspiration in the work and values of Chavez, Huerta, and Itliong. Chavez quotes, “The fight has never been about the grapes, the fight has always been about the people!” We promote this very motto at the CCCAC by centering on our core values such as community, empowerment, solidarity, and civic engagement. At the center, we offer a variety of services that serve people.

    • Through our K-12 mentorship programs, we are able to close the education pipeline for BIPOC youth of San Jose by encouraging education.
    • Through our Campus Community Garden, we have not only helped to provide for food-insecure students but also empower students to critically think about and take action on environmental justice issues.
    • Our In Solidarity program equips the SJSU students with a new understanding on social justice issues and how to become the next generation of leaders.

We have truly become a student hub on campus where people learn to take action on the social justice issues they are most passionate about. The CCCAC is a space where Spartans can feel united and connected to social justice work as inspired by CHI.

We invite you to join us at the inaugural CHI Day to celebrate and honor the work of Chavez, Huerta, and Itliong on Thursday, March 17 from 11am-1pm on 7th Street Plaza at San Jose State University. We not only celebrate their legacy but also remember the cause! When we say “viva la huelga” (long live the protest), we acknowledge the triumph of the grape strike! There will always be a cause and we will always fight for it.

The CCCAC is located in the Student Union, 1st Floor, Suite 1550. Connect with us in Insta @sjsucccac and @sjsugarden. Visit us on the web at sjsu.edu/cccac and sjsu.edu/garden.

Advocacy by Alan Nguyen

Alan Nguyen is a student assistant in Transportation Solutions, a department within Associated Students, SJSU. In this latest Spartan Voice by A.S. Blog, Alan shares his story on Advocacy, one of eight Core Values in the Associated Students Strategic Plan. Read more about our organization’s values in the A.S. Strategic Plan here

“I have always had a strong passion for public transportation. It started when I was little and has continued throughout my teenage and adult years.”

For my generation, advocacy is an essential form of public engagement. It allows us to voice our opinions and to influence people and our leaders for the betterment of society. I guess I inherited the same interest from my grandfather who moved from Vietnam to the US in the early 1900s. He took various forms of public transportation across the San Francisco Bay Area, including VTA and BART, to travel to Oakland and San Francisco during his free time. His visits to the city reminded him of his younger days in Vietnam, where he worked as a civil engineer building public transportation infrastructure in various cities across the country.

“I highly encourage every Spartan to take sustainable forms of transportation…”

I currently work as a student assistant in Transportation Solutions (T.S.) department. Before joining T.S. in Fall 2021, I never had any prior experience working for a department that advocates for alternative transportation. I highly encourage every Spartan to take sustainable forms of transportation rather than driving their own vehicles. They’ll help reduce parking demand on campus and ultimately help fight climate change. We need to significantly reduce all carbon emissions, including what’s produced by a massive number of cars on the road.

My job has been fulfilling because I have developed a more robust understanding of how the 27 public transit agencies in the Bay Area work. Additionally, I have helped my fellow Spartans by providing trip plans, contributing to multiple transportation projects, organizing outreach events, and more. Working at T.S. is an amazing opportunity for me to network with like-minded individuals who share the same passion when advocating for environmental sustainability.

“I act as a liaison on behalf of my fellow Spartans.”

My goal is to go above and beyond what’s expected in my role. For example, my manager recommended me to get involved in outreach events with Seamless Bay Area, a non-profit organization that aims to reinvent and transform our fragmented public transit by building a diverse movement for change and promoting policy reform. This can result in a unified, world-class, equitable, and widely-used Bay Area transit system. I act as a liaison on behalf of my fellow Spartans by attending public meetings, voicing my concerns as a frequent public transit user, and pushing for a better transit system that is streamlined and affordable for students.

“Together, we can build a better Bay Area!”

We all have an important role in society: the need to address the seriousness of climate change and what we can do to help mitigate this for future generations now calls on our spirit of advocacy! Together, we can build a better Bay Area and ultimately, a better world, by becoming more informed, getting involved, acting, and influencing people around us. I want to continue using my passion for public transportation and the environment as a means of becoming an everyday role model for my fellow Spartans!

To contact Alan Nguyen and the T.S. team and to learn more about programs, events, and services:

Transportation Solutions
Diaz Compean Student Union, 1st Floor, Suite 1800
In-Person Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
Tel: (408)924-6242; e-mail: transportation@sjsu.edu
Instagram and Twitter: @ts_sjsu
ts.sjsu.edu