2017 Summer Intern Video

Aimee Hwang


Aimee is a rising third-year at the University of Chicago. She is majoring in Public Policy with a minor in Human Rights. On campus, she has been involved with social justice programs that focus on the issues facing the city of Chicago and tutoring local neighborhood children.  She recently studied abroad in Vienna for UChicago’s Human Rights Program.

Born and raised in Michigan, Aimee has been involved with the Asian American community and the OCA-Detroit chapter ever since she was born. Aimee’s interest with politics and policy was sparked by being raised in a household that was heavily focused on ensuring dignity and justice for all, especially for the Asian American community, starting with the Vincent Chin case in Detroit. She learned that policy was critical in order to guarantee that the rights of vulnerable and marginalized populations were being fulfilled and protected. This exposure to social justice and cultural awareness from an early age is what inspired Aimee to pursue a policy oriented major and, hopefully, a career.

Aimee has dipped her toes into the political world by working on political campaigns in her home state and working in the district office for U.S. Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence. She is passionate about issues such as reproductive rights, access to quality education and affordable healthcare, and immigration.

In her free time, Aimee enjoys traveling and trying new foods. Aimee is looking forward to exploring Washington, DC and learning more about the issues affecting the AAPI community.

Aimee is an intern at the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC).

Alekhya  Chaparala

Alekhya is a rising senior at Cornell University majoring in Biology & Society with a minor in Global Health. She grew up equal parts on the East and West coasts, before moving to upstate New York for college. The eldest child of Indian immigrants, Alekhya has been lucky enough to grow up knowing her extended family from numerous summers spent in her family’s home state of Andhra Pradesh, India. Early exposure to India’s unsegregated socioeconomic inequality, combined with an recognition of her family’s deep roots in Andhra Pradesh, pushed Alekhya to question how her life had unfolded so differently from the people she came from. These experiences sparked an interest in education and public health, an intimate love for her heritage and a passion for learning about social, economic and political inequalities.

 At Cornell, Alekhya is involved with the Cornell Prison Education Program, a college-in-prison program for incarcerated men in upstate New York. Serving as a teaching assistant at Auburn Correctional Facility has been one of the most meaningful experiences of Alekhya’s life, and has taught her an immense amount about institutionalized oppression, human empathy and the liberating power of education. Although she would describe herself as an “extroverted introvert”, Alekhya is happiest when she is sharing conversations, food, music and experiences with people of different backgrounds. She is constantly awestruck by the diversity of experiences that exist within a single city, state or country, and is passionate about creating greater voice and opportunity for the underrepresented. In her free time, Alekhya enjoys engaging in any and all types of physical activity, reading historical fiction and making bad jokes.

Alekhya is an intern at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Alvin Zhang

Alvin is a recent graduate from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in Religious Studies and Biology. 

At WashU, he was engaged with the Asian American community with Asian Pacific Islander American Initiative (APIAI). APIAI advocated for Asian American identity development and education in an intersectional lens, towards deeper solidarity with communities of color and uplifting LGBTQ identities, as well as working towards institutional changes to better serve the Asian student body, such as supporting the new Asian American studies program and data disaggregation. As a student-advocate for justice against oppression in many forms, he served as Student Director of the Social Justice Center and was a representative on the Search Committee for the new Dean of Diversity & Inclusion.

From growing up in South Florida and having gone to school in the Midwest in Saint Louis, Alvin is excited for the opportunity to be in the lively city of Washington D.C. to learn more about politics, advocacy and community within AAPI networks. He strives to continue the fight towards justice and liberation for our most marginalized and invisible communities with an Asian American voice.

In his free time, Alvin loves to listen to music by inspiring artists, dance to music, check what’s happening on Twitter, and talk about everything in between.

Alvin is an intern at Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA).

Benjamin Tran

Benjamin is a rising senior at the University of California, Irvine, pursing a degree in Political Science. At school, Benjamin is involved with the Teochew Student Association (TCA), UCI Wushu, and works as a General Assistant at the UCI Summer Session Student Life Office. Benjamin’s father is a refugee of the Vietnam War, who had the opportunity to immigrate to America and start a new life. Inspired by hearing his father’s story, Benjamin wants to help ensure people of all kinds have the opportunity to achieve a wholesome and fulfilling life. Other inspirations in his life include political satirists such as former host of the Daily Show, Jon Stewart. Benjamin wishes to pursue a career in civics.

Born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles County, Benjamin has been immersed in a large Asian community growing up. He takes great interest in the issues that concern the Asian American community, but also wishes to continue growing his knowledge of issues affecting every community. Throughout his life and education, Southern California has been home for Benjamin. After countless adventures on the West coast, he saw it fit to branch out and explore the East coast, starting with Washington D.C. During his internship, Benjamin hopes to explore as much as possible and take in all the sights.

In his free time, Benjamin can be found searching for the next food adventure, listening to comedians, watching Spongebob Squarepants, cooking, spending time with friends, or laughing at his own jokes. Benjamin is also on a lifelong quest to find the best boba milk tea in the world. 

Benjamin is a Chapter & Membership intern at the OCA National Center.

Christine Lee

Christine is a senior at Duke University, where she is studying Public Policy and History. She was born in Memphis, TN, and is interested in AAPI representation, postcolonial 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 it means to be Asian and AAPI in the South. 

She is currently involved in the Duke Asian Students Association, the Asian American Alliance, Asian InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, the Asian American Studies Working Group at Duke University, and the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) National Board. In her free time, she likes to run, bake, and rummage around the Duke Archives.

Christine is an intern at APIAVote.


Gao Ly Moua is a senior at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Economics with a minor in Sociology. Gao Ly is a Hmong American, born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, as the second youngest in her family of nine. Her parents are refugees from the Secret War in Vietnam who came to the United States in 1986 to start a new life for their family. The story of her parents and the Hmong people has inspired her to explore her culture by participating in cultural dance competitions at an early age and to learn more about Asian American issues in the community.

On campus, she is involved in various student organizations, most notably the Hmong Student Association, where she has volunteered to perform and choreograph cultural Hmong dances for organization events. As an OCA intern, Gao Ly hopes to learn more about advocating for and providing resources for immigrants.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling to new places, spending time with friends and family, watching Korean dramas, dancing, and playing volleyball and football.

Gao Ly is a Development Intern at the OCA National Center. 

Herico "coco" Aiten

Coco will be a Junior at Portland State University majoring in Child and Family Studies. She was born on the island of Saipan and migrated to the United States at the age of two. Her family is originally from Chuuk (Federated States of Micronesia.) She now lives in Oregon. As a student at PSU, she is involved in various campus organizations. She is a peer mentor for the EMPOWER scholarship, a mentor for the MAPS program, the Public Outreach coordinator for the Body Politics Action Team, and a member of the PSU AAPI Task Force. The EMPOWER program focuses on assisting first generation Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander college students. Through this mentorship program she has learned the importance of advocating for AAPI educational rights and has helped her find what she wants to pursue after graduation. She plans to work in student affairs in higher education.

Coco is also a mentor for the Mentoring Alder Portland State (MAPS) program where she tutors low income students and introduces the option of higher education. At this site, she is able to connect with the AAPI students in her local community and see what issues they face at a young age. As the POC for the Body Politics Action Team (BPAT), she has learned the importance of advocating for body rights as a woman and person of color by facilitating workshops that explored self identity and body image as influenced by culture.

As an OCA intern, Coco hopes to learn more about the AAPI community, the issues that we are faced with, and how to help uplift the PI community. During her free time, Coco likes to take naps, go to the beach, go hiking/exploring, and eat batches of brownies.

Coco is an intern at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF). 

Hiep Nguyen

Having immigrated to America in 2013 from Vietnam, Hiep Nguyen is a rising junior at the University of Washington majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Political Science. At UW, Hiep enhances his civic engagement by working on a Nonprofit Management Certificate to add to a Board Member Training Program from United Way of King County that he completed in early 2017. With a huge passion for impacting the people around him, he has volunteered at Neighborhood House, American Red Cross, United Way, YWCA and the Seattle Municipal Court. Hiep decided to take his community involvement to the next level as he is taking on leadership roles at local nonprofits in the Seattle area. He will be a member of the Marketing Committee at the Children's Home Society of Washington and a trustee at the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS) once he returns to the Pacific Northwest.

Hiep is a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship semifinalist and continues to build his professional experience even while pursuing his degree. Hiep has worked in the financial services industry, a health insurance company, a financial institution and an auto insurance agency. This summer, he's excited to be an intern at the DC Mayor's Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, where he will be immersed in the study of public policy and advocacy toward his own community.

In his free time, he enjoys hiking, dancing and relaxing with his friends and family.

Hiep is an intern at the Mayor's Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (MOAPIA).

Hoyon Mephokee

Hoyon Mephokee is a rising 5th year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he studies political science and art history. In his freshman and sophomore years, he served on his campus student government and as state deputy finance director for the College Democrats of Wisconsin, and also volunteered on a number of political campaigns. In his junior year, he was the president of the Asian American Student Union (AASU) at UW-Madison. This past year he served as AASU’s senior advisor where he worked with its education team, and also served on the Midwest Asian American Students Union (MAASU) Executive Coordinating Committee as its secretary.

Hoyon self-identifies as a 1.5-generation immigrant. He was born to a Korean mother and a Thai father, and was raised in Bangkok where he attended an American high school. Through his experiences, he developed an interest in issues of race, class, gender and sexuality, and of other identities. He understands that these issues do not simply exist in separate bubbles, but that they manifest and intersect in and between different communities in vastly different ways.

Hoyon hopes that his experience in Washington D.C. this summer will allow him to develop himself as an advocate for the APIA community and for other marginalized communities. He is also looking forward to networking and developing friendships with like-minded students and young professionals.

In his free time, Hoyon enjoys working out, playing music, watching Netflix and reading.

Hoyon is an intern at Dewey Square Group.

Jaylia Yan

Jaylia is a senior at Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University, with majors in Economics, Political Science, and Global Studies. Jaylia attributes her interest in international economics and diplomacy to her upbringing as a first-generation American, where she was exposed to how international events and cultures affected her life and experiences. In educating herself about international relations, Jaylia has interned in Beijing and recently returned from a year abroad studying at the London School of Economics, where she was also a research assistant for the International Relations department, examining economic diplomacy. She has also worked at the New America Foundation, the International Model United Nations Association, and the All Walks Project.  She has contributed publications at ASU’s Global Affairs Theoretical and Empirical Journal and China Hands Magazine at Yale.

Having previously interned for former Rep. Salmon at the House of Representatives, Jaylia hopes to learn from the other side of the government process by experiencing policy research, lobbying, and advocacy at OCA.

Jaylia is a Policy Intern at the OCA National Center.

Jerome Tirso

Jerome is a rising Fourth Year at the University of Virginia double majoring in Economics and Spanish with a minor in Foreign Affairs. He has held various leadership positions both on and off Grounds and is heavily involved in the AAPI community at the University. During his time at UVa, he's served on the executive board of the Organization of Young Filipino Americans (OYFA) as the Recording Secretary and Treasurer, and is now the current Vice President of the Organization. Through these positions, he has been a representative for OYFA in the Asian Leaders Council. In addition, he has involved himself in other parts of the University by working at the University’s Office of Health Promotion and advising incoming First Years as a mentor in the Peer Advising Family Network (PAFN). 

Last summer, he took part in a study abroad program in Valencia, Spain where he did coursework in business and economics. During the program, he not only had the opportunity to visit many different cities, but also learned the importance of removing himself from familiarity. The experience opened his eyes to different AAPI issues concerning education and immigration, and encouraged him to broaden his scope beyond just the University bubble. He hopes that his experience with OCA will improve his understanding of issues facing the Asian American community. He plans to use his economics background and extracurricular experiences to pursue a career in public service. 

Jerome is a first-generation Filipino American from Fairfax, Virginia. In his spare time, he enjoys food, fashion, and photography.

Jerome is an intern at the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).

Joyce Nguy

Joyce is a rising junior at the University of California, Irvine double majoring in Political Science and Education Science with a minor in History. She is an advocate for women’s rights, globalization, and education, and takes these passions into high school classrooms around Orange County. She has been teaching Globalization and International Relations to high school freshmen twice a week for the last two years through an organization called Global Connect @ UCI. This past year, she has also been involved as a campus representative and residential adviser, and even though her life is always hectic, she believes in taking every opportunity to give back to her community as possible. Because she was raised by two hard-working Chinese immigrant parents, she was able to understand early on the value of hard work in the pursuit of obtaining the American Dream. An aspiring professor of political science, her main area of research currently is political polarization in Orange County, and the untapped political power that AAPIs possess. Although she has a long way to go, she would love to be able to empower other AAPI girls to follow their political pursuits. She is also passionate about dogs, long walks on the beach, and Disney. 

Joyce grew up in San Diego, California and believes that if her Ph.D does not pan out, then becoming a Disney princess is next on the list.

Joyce is a Programs Intern at the OCA National Center.

Justin Lo

Justin is a rising senior at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina studying Political Science with a concentration in Law and Justice and Law and Theory. He identifies as a Hmong American Male and aspires to help the AAPI community navigate the legal system. Justin hopes to become an immigration attorney to give a voice to the voiceless and to defend those who really need the law, and those who need the law to protect them.

On his campus, Justin is actively involved in his fraternity, Lambda Phi Epsilon, as a charter and as the president. Through Lambda Phi Epsilon, Justin seeks to provide a sense of identity for Asian American men on campus and to help them develop to their fullest potential whether it’s socially, academically, or professionally. In addition, Justin is one of the founding members of Asian Students In Alliance (ASIA) which seeks to advocate for Asian American representation on campus through the Multicultural Student Affairs Office. Justin has also served as the social chair of the Hmong Students Association at NC State prior to his study abroad journey in South Korea at the University of Seoul.

While in South Korea, Justin had the opportunity to assist with North Korean refugee resettlement. It is from this experience that he is inspired to help immigrants maneuver the legal system. Currently, Justin is applying to law schools and working on his application for the Fulbright Scholars program to achieve a master’s degree in International Korean Politics and Affairs. He believes that as Asian American’s, we should use our success to empower, mobilize and give back to the community that shaped us.

Justin is an intern at Legacies of War.

Molly Clark

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Molly is a proud Korean adoptee, Syracuse native, and the youngest of her three siblings who is excited to be a part of OCA’s summer internship program. She is a rising junior and Public Policy major with a Hispanic Studies minor at Hamilton College. On campus, Molly is involved with Hamilton’s Asian Student Association as Discussion Chair, and is looking forward to sharing all she learns this summer with the group in the fall. Additionally, Molly is a member of Hamilton’s Student Assembly, works as an Exploration Adventure Orientation Trip Leader, and is former Secretary/ Treasurer of the Shenendoah-Kirkland initiative, a group on campus that focuses on the historical connection between Hamilton College and the neighboring Oneida Nation.

This summer, Molly is hoping to learn more about the history of different AAPI communities and the issues they face in order to better support AAPIs in her school and home communities. In her free time, Molly enjoys spending time with family and friends, running, cooking, and watching stand-up comedy.

 Molly is a Policy Intern at the OCA National Center.

Quyen Hoang

Quyen Hoang is a rising senior at Michigan State University (MSU) studying Comparative Cultures and Politics with minors in Asian Pacific American Studies and Peace and Justice Studies. On MSU’s campus, she was elected as the president of the Asian Pacific American Student Organization (APASO) for the 2017-2018 academic school year. She was also one of the founding members of the United Madisonian Multicultural Association for the James Madison Residential College. With APASO’s platform she hopes to further increase AAPI visibly by interacting and collaborating with fellow student leaders from various communities.

Through the OCA Internship Program she hopes to apply her studies on topics such as race, ethnicity, politics, and post-colonialism into practice. She also hopes to solidify her post-graduation plans and explore potential career paths through the program. 

She is proud of her Vietnamese-American upbringing and outside of her interests in civil rights and social justice, she enjoys listening to music and watching TV. 

Quyen is an intern at the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA).

Rose Montgomery

Rose is a rising senior at the University of Virginia studying Foreign Affairs and Media Studies. As a DMV native, she has always been interested in politics and media as tools for growth and representation. Growing up in a Filipino-Caucasian household, she was exposed to cultural diversity and taught to address discrimination from a young age.

Rose engages with the minority community through various leadership positions at U.Va. Through these involvements, she has gained a deeper understanding of issues that affect people of color and has developed skills to advocate for them. Rose is currently serving her second term as a council member for the Organization of Young Filipino Americans. Among other involvements, Rose has also served as a member of the Minority Rights Coalition’s outreach committee, an ESOL tutor, and senior writer for The Cavalier Daily.

Her past internships with the U.S. Department of State focused on strategic communications, outreach, and research for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. These academic, extracurricular and professional experiences have cemented Rose’s interests in advocacy and communications. Through the OCA internship program, Rose hopes to learn how to utilize her past experiences to support the AAPI community. 

In her free time, Rose enjoys listening to hip-hop, trying new cuisines, and relaxing with friends and family.

Rose is an intern at the Council of Korean Americans (CKA). 


Sean McGovern

Sean is a recent graduate from the University of Maryland, where he earned a degree in English Language and Literature. He was placed at APAICS through OCA's summer internship program. As a communications intern, he hopes to further hone his skills in graphic design and social media while exploring how he can contribute to AAPI nonprofits in the DC area. His identity as mixed race and Thai American pushes him to constantly consider the ramifications of public policy for communities of color. This summer, he's most excited about meeting and collaborating with other AAPI's who are passionate about their stake in policy, media, and culture. In his free time, Sean is passionate about rock climbing, Asian American literature, and peanut butter.

Sean is an intern at the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS).