OCA 2019 Summer intern Video
Alexander Le is a recent graduate of the University of Houston, obtaining his Bachelor’s in Biomedical Sciences. He was born in Houston, Texas to refugees from Vietnam. His interests center on medicine and cultivating community wellness through addressing the social determinants of health.
During undergrad, he worked in a cardiac pharmacology lab studying the effects of altered gene expression on heart failure. As the President of his Circle K International chapter, he helped organize community service projects in collaboration with local nonprofits, and began an annual initiative around refugee and immigrant outreach. He also co-founded a group called Student Nation, hosting on-campus letter writing workshops and civic engagement panels.
This summer, Alex looks forward to learning more about the AAPI community's long history of social activism, embracing the intersections of his own identity, and trying out vegetarian food places.
In his free time, he enjoys singing, photography, and traveling through time and space with his TARDIS plushie.
Alex is a Health Policy Intern at the Hepatitis B Foundation.
Ashley Rajavadee is a rising fourth year at the Ohio State University, studying Human Nutrition with specialization in Industry as well as a minor in Pharmaceutical Science. Born in Columbus, Ohio, her interests center on health and nutrition equity across the US in addition to increased representation of Southeast Asian Americans.
On campus, she is the outgoing coordinator of the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) peer mentorship Cohort, Events chair of the Asian American Association, a member of the Vietnamese Student Association, and an Ohio State Stadium Scholar. She is also a past student ambassador for APIAVote.
This summer, Ashley looks forward to connecting with similar-minded individuals and developing her professional skills.
Even though she’s (very) lactose intolerant, her favorite drink is black milk tea.
Ashley is a Development Intern at OCA National Center.
Cheyenne Cheng is a fourth year student at the University of Florida studying Psychology. She was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, which is a small hub for Filipinx Americans. She is passionate about AAPI advocacy, community wellness, intersectional organizing, and oral history.
On campus, she serves as the Project Coordinator for the Asian American Oral History Project, which seeks to document the experiences of Asian Americans in the South. She has also served as the Advocacy Chair for the Asian American Student Union and has worked with various organizations on campus to bring free hygiene products to campus as well as the first disability advocacy assembly, a welcome event for incoming students with disabilities. She has also been a former APIAVote ambassador and currently serves as the Mobilization Coordinator for the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU).
This summer, Cheyenne looks forward to meeting new people as well as connect with friends within the AAPI advocacy community. She also looks forward to finding new pastry and coffee shops to visit. In her free time, she enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, journaling, and watching shows on Netflix.
Cheyenne is a Communications Intern at the OCA National Center.
Darren De Leon
Darren De Leon is a 4th year undergraduate studying at the University of California, Irvine. He studies Political Science with a minor in International Studies, with a particular emphasis on AAPI civic engagement. Born in Los Angeles, California to hardworking, immigrant Filipino parents, Darren is passionate about social justice and public policy.
At UCI, Darren has an extensive background in teaching and conducting research. Through Global Connect@UCI & Saturday Academy of Law, Darren teaches high-performing high school freshmen at Laguna Hills High School & around Orange County. Vis-a-vis research, Darren is completing his honors thesis via UCI’s Department of Political Science. His thesis analyzes the efficacy of ethnic club organizations in mobilizing and civically engaging members at both University College London & UCI.
Aside from learning new things at both OCA and APALA, Darren wants to check out different boba places on the East Coast and do a tasting scale. (Did we already say he loves boba?) In his free time, Darren naps, makes detailed travel itineraries for trips that end up getting cancelled, and being called “baby.”
Darren is an intern at the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA).
Emily Ng is a rising fourth year at Pitzer College, studying Environmental Analysis (policy track) and Sociology with a minor in Spanish. Emily is passionate about the intersections between environmentalism and public health in the environmental justice/racism area. She is particularly passionate about air quality and environmental justice and on advocating for those disproportionately impacted by emissions from a nearby factory or highway due to race or income. She believes it is a right to breathe clean air, and wants to educate and inform POC/immigrant communities on the issues they are facing and how to mobilize.
On campus, she is a Fellow for the Robert Redford Conservancy of Southern California Sustainability, which organizes environmental events that not only focus on conservation/preservation, but also bring in the local low-income community and indigenous tribes to foster connections and mitigate environmental injustices. She has helped revived Environmentalists of Color, Organized (ECO) on campus which acts like an affinity group to build connections and support for those pursuing a career in a historically and predominantly white field, at a predominantly white institution.
In her free time, Emily likes to make foods such as bread, dumplings, and green onion pancakes. She also likes to try new food places, hike, go to the beach, thrift shop, or just stay in for a long Netflix binge.
Emily is an intern at the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water Intern at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Jenny V. Ha
Jenny Ha is entering her second year at the University of Southern California studying Sociology with a minor in Law and Policy. Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, she is passionate about educational equity and immigration reform.
On campus, she was the Legislative Affairs Committee Chair and the youngest-serving member on the Norman Topping Student Aid Fund's Governing Board. The Topping Aid Fund is a student-led and student-funded scholarship and retention program created to support first-generation and/or low-income students. This year, she will be the Fund's Governing Board Chair and will be in charge of strategic planning and restructuring to develop the Fund's Guidelines. She was also a policy analyst for the Roosevelt Institute's USC Chapter and developed a policy proposal outlining the next steps USC should take to raise retention rates by creating more resources for first-generation and/or low-income students. She has also been the Programming Chair for her dorm and has served as a writing mentor at local Title-I high schools.
This summer she is excited to learn more about immigration reform because it has always been a touchy subject in her family. Additionally, She wants to learn about the logistics and functions of non-profit work and explore the intersection between AAPI issues and educational equity to combat the model minority myth.
In her free time, she enjoys listening to music and watching romantic comedies. She also likes to take walks and enjoy fresh air, hoping to see some dogs on the way.
Jenny is a Policy Intern at the OCA National Center.
Jessica Yan is a first year student at Stanford University. Born and raised in Mesa, Arizona, Jessica is passionate about increasing representation of the AAPI community across all sectors, especially in the political and international arenas. She is also interested in international economics and its intersection with climate change policy.
Jessica’s interest in her AAPI identity emerged during her gap year in Beijing with the National Security Language Initiative for Youth, in which she was placed at a public Chinese high school. While abroad, she raised awareness about the diversity behind the word “American” and the role of AAPIs in American culture. She instituted a language partner program between local Chinese high school students and American exchange students to facilitate cultural understanding and language learning for both parties.
This summer, Jessica looks forward to learning the stories of the people in DC and exploring the city’s food scene. In her free time, Jessica loves to cook, play music, and meet dogs.
Jessica is a Programs & Communications Intern at the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).
Julia Zhong is a rising third year at Emory University studying Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology with a minor in Sociology. Born in New York City, she is passionate about mental health within API communities and hopes to pursue a career in which she can work to not only provide mental health services for communities of color, especially the AAPI one, but also to destigmatize mental health within her community. She is also interested in immigration and LGBTQ+ rights.
On campus, she is a Chief of Staff of Emory's Asian Pacific-Islander Desi American Activists, a student organization that she and a few others chartered to raise awareness and discussion about Asian identity, issues, and politics. She is also an artist manager for Emory Arts Underground, a student organization dedicated to increasing the accessibility of arts education at Emory, and was also the music director for Emory's Ad Hoc Production's production of the musical Lysistrata Jones. This past year she conducted research in the Neuroimaging Lab at the Marcus Autism Center and investigated connections between eye-blinking and social behavior in infants with and without Austism Spectrum Disorder. She was also involved with Residence Life as a sophomore advisor and will continue to do so next year as a resident advisor for first-years.
This summer, she looks forward to learning more about the intersections of API identity and various social justice issues, getting to know the other cohort members, and to be able to explore the DC area!
In her free time, Julia really enjoy discovering new music (particularly classical because she’s a nerd) and musicals to listen to. She also enjoys playing piano and singing, practicing calligraphy and bullet journaling, and reading books by API authors.
Julia is an intern at the Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project (DVRP).
Katelyn Monaco is a rising third year at Ithaca College, studying English with minors in Education and Asian American Studies. Adopted from Shaoyang, China, she was raised in Washington state. She is passionate about educational policy and equity, data disaggregation, and community development.
On campus, she is the Vice President of the Asian American Alliance; a member of HEARD, an organization that does creative arts with youth in juvenile detention facilities; an MLK Scholar (with research on international educational policy); and an RA in Housing Offering a Multicultural Experience (HOME) doing events around ethnic and racial diversity, LGBTQ+ allyship and activism, and ableism.
This summer, Katelyn looks forward to learning more about the nonprofit sector and different approaches to educational policy, as well as meeting other interns around DC who are passionate about centering social justice in whatever field they go into.
In her free time she loves listening to podcasts and finding new R&B music. She also likes to watch recipe videos on YouTube, read as much as she can, and watercolor.
Katelyn is a Public Partnerships Intern at Teach for America.
Kathleen Miao is a rising fourth year at Franklin & Marshall College, studying Environmental Studies with a minor in Art History. Born in New York City, she is passionate about environmentalism/sustainability, public health, mental health, representation of AAPI in the US media, and racial discrimination.
On campus she is a photographer for the men’s rugby team, a student senator, member of the Asian American Alliance, and a Breakthrough New York and SEO Scholar. She has went abroad to Vietnam, Morocco, and Bolivia to study climate change and the politics of food, water, and energy.
This summer, Kathleen looks forward to connecting with new people and accomplishing a lot at her internship. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, swimming, biking, photography, writing in her journal, and going to museums.
Kathleen is an intern at the Office of Environmental Justice at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Kevin Ha is a rising fourth year at the University of California, Davis, studying Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology. Born in Woodland Hills, CA, he is passionate about climate change's effects on wildlife and mental health in AAPI communities.
On campus, he has served as the President of the Asian American Association, a student organization that strives to build a welcoming community for all AAPI folks through weekly programming and cultural events. He now serves as their Senior Advisor.
This summer, Kevin looks forward to being super touristy, experiencing the professional culture in DC, and of course, getting closer to the others in the cohort.
In his free time, he sometimes learns the words to hip hop songs and raps them when alone to hype himself. He also enjoys baking and skateboarding.
Kevin is an intern at the Office of Tribal Relations at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Keyla Higa is a rising fourth year at Lawrence University, majoring in Global Studies and German. Born in Connecticut, she is passionate about education access and quality. As a product of both the Indonesian and American education systems, she believes that a well-rounded education will engage students in diverse ways of thinking. This means providing multi-disciplinary fields and environments, emphasizing social problems, and advocating for the arts. A good education is where we can explore our interest and be passionate about the future. Over the course of six years, she has attended eight different schools.
On campus, she has served as the President of the Pan-Asian Organization as well as their Event and Publicity Chair.
This summer, Keyla looks forward to exploring DC, meeting new people and learning more about education access and leadership development through her internship placement. In her free time she enjoys travelling and exploring new places.
Keyla is a Programs Intern at the APIA Scholars.
Kyra is a rising second year at Wellesley College with a prospective major in Economics. Born in Maryland, she is passionate about extending legal and financial resources to AAPI folks who do not have standard accessibility, whether it be due to socioeconomic status, educational inequity, or nationality/ethnicity. She is also passionate about advancing the voices and ideas of LGBTQ+ AAPI youth, a minority often marginalized in national conversation.
On campus, Kyra was the Political and Legislative representative for the Wellesley Asian Alliance, a student organization that specializes in institutional change and advancing Asian American justice. She is also a part of the Chinatown Afterschool Program, which is a program that provides students at Wellesley and the Boston area with the opportunity to be able to connect with the Boston Chinatown community and volunteer as counselors working at an after school care center.
This summer, Kyra looks forward to exploring DC and meeting the other interns. In her off time, she likes to play Bananagrams.
Kyra is an intern for the Asian Pacific Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS).
Malaya Siy is a rising fourth year at Saint Louis University, studying Anthropology with minors in Mandarin, Global & Social Justice, and Visual Communications. Born in Burbank, California, She is passionate about civil & human rights and would like to become a lawyer and defend these rights.
On campus, she is involved in the Filipino Student Association and the Atlas Program. With FSA, she has held the position of Social Justice Chair and has participated in their cultural dance performances. As an Atlas program intern for two years, she has helped host the Annual Atlas week, which celebrates international education/international social justice and all the places SLU students come from.
This summer, she looks forward to soaking up all she can learn at her internship while exploring DC and meeting all the people she can. She also plays the ukulele and loves to read.
Malaya is an intern at Futures Without Violence.
Nolan Burdett is a rising fourth year at the University of Texas at Austin. Born in Houston, Texas, he is passionate about access to education and AAPI representation in politics, business and media.
On campus, he is involved in ice hockey, the Tejas Club, and the Texas Silver Spurs.
This summer, he looks forward to having fun with friends. In his free time he likes to read, play chess, watch basketball, and hike.
Nolan is an intern at the office of Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick.
Patrick Canteros is a rising fourth year at the College of William & Mary studying finance and Asian and Pacific Islander American Studies. At school, he is involved in the Asian American Student Initiative, the Filipino American Student Association, and Peer Diversity Educators.
Born in Davao, Philippines but raised in Richmond, Virginia, Patrick is passionate about a range of issues including: APIA healthcare, the environment, and immigration. In his free time, he loves to go rock climbing and other outdoor activities. He once hiked 200 miles on the Camino de Santiago.
This summer, Patrick is looking forward to meeting other like-minded AAPIs and transforming advocacy into action!
Patrick is an intern at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA.)
Wesley Wei is a rising third year at Vanderbilt University studying Human & Organizational Development and Public Policy Studies. From Danville, KY, he is passionate about AAPI government representation, the intersections of LGBTQ+ and AAPI identity, and equity in education.
On campus, he is the current Publicity Chair for the Asian American Student Association and was previously their Community Coordinator, putting together programming for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. He is also on Vanderbilt Student Government’s Academic Affairs Committee.
This summer, Wesley is excited to explore the food and coffee scene in D.C. (and subsequently spend way too much money). In his free time, he also watches (too much) RuPaul's Drag Race.
Wesley is a Policy & Research Intern at the Learning Policy Institute.