Student Spotlight: Quyen Chau
When you walk into the Student Center East Administrative Support office, you will find Quyen Chau adding and reconciling numbers for the Center. As an accounting assistant for two years, he enjoys this type of work. It is no surprise that he is majoring in Accounting at Georgia State University, J. Mack Robinson College of Business. As a senior, he is looking forward to finishing his bachelor’s degree in business administration in December 2017, and he will complete his Master’s Degree in Professional Accountancy the following year. With a 4.26 overall grade point average, he is an exceptional student who takes his academics seriously. In balancing out his demanding academic schedule, Chau enjoys participating and attending events sponsored by The Multicultural Center such as the 2016 Social Justice Retreat, 2016 LGBTQIQA Open House, and the 2017 Metaphorically Speaking Spoken Word event. In addition to a leadership position that have resonated with Chau have given him the chance to develop and grow as a leader.
As he attended the Social Justice Retreat, Chau felt that this event “helped me to see the many issues that I cannot comprehend due to my background, ethnicity, and race.” Chau furthered his discussion on race by saying, “going to this event is a way for me to see how as an ally to the communities, and most importantly as a human being, I know how to help me as well as helping others to comprehend and understand the struggles that many of my friends and surrounding communities are facing. Being able to build empathy and learn the substances of social cues where bystander interruptions are necessary are just one of the few things I learned from Social Justice Retreat.”
The LGBTQIQA Open House allowed Chau to network and meet students, faculty and staff who identify as LGBTQIQA+. “I have become much more aware of this particular community, my [Vietnamese] community, on-campus [connections] than ever before. I also had a chance to meet individuals whose identities lie on different part of the sexual identity spectrum. I get to meet new friends and know more about their personalities as well as hobbies. In a way, this is my chance to debunk the many myths and questions I had in mind about the community I claimed [as] my own,” said Chau. In the Metaphorically Speaking Spoken Word event, Chau performed as well as took part in planning the event. “It is my first time being able to use my past knowledge in planning with Conscious Collective to help Multicultural Programming Council (MPC) organize and make this event a success,” Chau reflected. He went on to say, “this event provided me an outlet to perform on campus, as singing is one of my passions. The event helped me to once again familiarize myself with organizing an event, and [I] had a chance to express my current emotions through my song choices and performances.”
Chau was able to not only attend events held by the Multicultural Center, but also give himself the opportunity to stretch his leadership skills by serving as the Outreach Coordinator – Campus Life for the Multicultural Programming Council (MPC), where he is responsible for reaching out to organizations on campus as well as keeping good relationships between both organizations and the Multicultural Programming Council (MPC). From both a personal and cultural perspective, Chau stated, “participating and being involved with The Multicultural Center has helped me so much in being [more] conscious about events and surrounding communities. My awareness about different cultures surrounding me increased dramatically. Of course, I am not at a stage of total awareness and knowledge about the communities I identify with or those surrounding me.” He feels that his experience with the Multicultural Center has “helped [me] to realize that it is never too late to be informed, and it is [not too late] to stop learning. Things I learn help me to know how to react in situations where a group of minorities are being mistreated, and as a bystander, I can help those in need and those who cannot speak for themselves due to oppression of others or society in general.” In dealing with cultural identity and heritage, Chau is a committee member for the Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month Celebration, he is ready to share his Vietnamese heritage and culture during the April event. In collaboration with staff member Christina Wan from the Multicultural Center, he plans to get in touch or connect with new Asian [students] focused organizations and chapters. From a culinary view, he gives suggestions about food display and ideas of food for the chef. Also, Chau attends weekly meetings about upcoming decisions as well as any changes referring to the event.
When the Multicultural Center is not on his radar, Chau still works diligently to balance a full plate of academic and co-curricular activities like other Georgia State students. “My advice for students would be trying to make a list of things that are the most important to you. After that you prioritize them in the order that you should consider first or later, including long and short-term goals. [Try] to save time for family events. However, make sure you have those, ‘Hey I’m in college’ talks with your family so that in times where you need to study extremely hard and [have] almost no time for anything, they [will fully] understand,” stated Chau. He shared, “If you a have job, try to work for a company where your supervisor or higher management teams understand that you are a student and will let you take days off before big exams. There are boundaries that you must set for yourself; you are coming to college to study and get a degree for future benefits and a better life. Do not let the monetary values of this present time let you lose track of your real purpose of coming to GSU.” Amanda Emery, Coordinator for New Student Orientation, Office of the Dean of Students said, “Quyen is academically talented and passionate about his career goals. He is able to manage competing responsibilities above and beyond his peers and has demonstrated this by achieving a 4.0 while maintaining the rigorous commitments of being an Orientation Leader. He is personable, confident, and works very well in both team environments and on individual tasks. He has the type of motivation and work ethic that is not so common among students his age today.”
Chau is passionate about being involved on campus and makes room in his schedule for other activities: he is a member of Korean Entertainment Group (KEC), a group focused on the entertainment industry (movies, [television] drama series, pop music or Kpop); continues to audition to perform at events on campus; and supports his LGBTQIQA friends. Furthermore, he still attends events, meetings and group discussions hosted by the Multicultural Center and the Alliance of Sexual and Gender Diversity. Being a student of Asian descent, Chau has acclimated himself to a diverse cultural experience represented at Georgia State University. Despite challenges he has become more accustom to the environment in a positive way. He shared, “my education has always been first and foremost. However, a balance between what you should achieve and what is in your abilities should [always] be considered.” He gave a great example to which students can relate such as the time he “spent countless hours reading several chapters for one quiz because he wanted to go further and beyond the requirement.” Although, the quiz only covered what was in the slides, Chau easily got a one hundred.” At the same time I wasted my time where I can use to prepare for other courses.” Because of this experience, he is much better prepared for dealing with situations such as this one.
Chau truly believes that the, “college experience is not all about studying. Most Asian students today, because of the values imposed on them by the community (Asian community to be specific), are pressured to study harder [to] do better in academia than their abilities allow. This takes up their time and what it truly meaningful to be young and alive with friends who are going through the same experience that you are. I encourage students to explore campus and find their niche, what makes them happy and develop a new hobby. The possibilities of life beside books are endless.” He knows that education is a very important aspect in student life; however, knowing how to balance schoolwork and life during college years is even more important so that a student can have a meaningful experience as they matriculate through school.
From a multicultural perspective, Chau stated, “I would like to see more inclusiveness. For a while I have seen the great diversity of Georgia State University and the Atlanta city being embraced by many. However, what I noticed is a lack of inclusiveness. Though we know that many people are from different parts of the world,…people are still only hanging out or communicating with their own group, who they seem to look like, sound like and with whom they share the same faith. I hope the communities will interconnect with each other, speak with each other about their values and live harmoniously together [with] minimal conflict.” He went on to say that, until that happens, we cannot truly call ourselves a melting pot of cultures.
Being a student and citizen of the world, Chau is also working on where he will be in the next five years from a personal and professional outlook: “Five years from now I would like [to] already be at management level for the company that I work with, or at least at senior level where I can manage my own time and work as well as helping newcomers with their first job,” said Chau. He still wants to maintain his fun and outgoing persona by continuing to perform at night or over the weekend at bars or social events where he can express his artistic sides. “I like to sing, and performance is my way of expressing my feelings and emotions. My slogan for my performances is. ‘I sing what I feel so people feel what I sing.’ For me, practicing vocal performances with my friends brighten up my days. Performing on stage is when I feel the most vulnerable, yet so free at the same time,” Chau said. In fact, he once performed as a drag queen under a show hosted by the Alliance of Sexual and Gender Diversity. He was able to dance to his favorite song and experience what it feels like to become a drag queen, what it feels like to be called Ms. Nova China (his stage name and drag personality). Chau fondly shared, “I had a chance [to] go through the experience that many of my friends talked about. It was life-changing to me, as it helped me see things about people with interests completely different from mine.”
This scholar, who is originally from Vietnam, currently has a grade point average of 4.26. His passion and professionalism inside and outside of the classroom help keep him focused on his goals. Chau said, “I want to keep my GPA high so that when those hard classes occur during the senior year, having a lower grade will not hurt my overall GPA.” It definitely sounds like a good strategic plan indeed. As much as he is proud of his academic accomplishments, he is very proud of his heritage, as well. Chau shared, “I am from Vietnam, which is my nationality. I am currently a U.S. citizen. My ethnicity is called Hoa, a subset of immigrants from the North of Vietnam with origins dating back to China. We are usually considered Chinese Vietnamese due to our origin. The word Hoa means ‘Flower’ in the Vietnamese language.” Well, he has grown and continues to grow as a flower striving for excellence with precision and professionalism.