In celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month, Nebraska Today talked with Tamayo Zhou, '19, who earned his degree in finance and currently pursues his master's degree in educational administration with a student affairs administration specialization. During his time at the College of Business, he served as president of the Husker International Business Club, Hult Prize competition campus director and one of the college's ambassadors. His impact as an undergraduate led him to receiving the university's Student Leadership Award in 2019. As a graduate student, he has been integral in creating spaces for dialogue on important issues and hopes to continue that impact post-grad.
Talk about the events you’ve organized recently to address AAPI racism.
Recently, I organized a special edition of Late Night Dish It Up at OASIS, to address anti-Asian hate crimes and provide local action items. And then, I co-coordinated a Stop Asian Hate Vigil to assist the community in healing and processing feelings. During the two events, I am glad to see that many people were able to connect with each other and share the issues with the public.
With fellow graduate student Meena Pannirselvam, we created the #StopAsianHate Action Guide for UNL and Lincoln to provide resources and action items to educate and make an impact. It will be so important for people to realize that they need do to more than just educating themselves.
Talk about the importance of events like Dish It Up in bringing awareness to issues and providing a space for open dialogue.
I think an event like Dish It Up is so important, and there need to be more similar events across departments and colleges. They provide the campus community a space to makes sense of recent issues, and it is a great educational opportunity for people to understand different perspectives and backgrounds.
How do your involvements on campus (or in the community) allow you to make an impact?
Three weeks ago, I was honored to speak at the Stop Asian Hate Protest. I hope to make an impact by first listening and understanding, then speaking up to amplify voices. Working with the Asian Student Union to respond to the Asian hate was an encouraging and inspiring experience for me.
During my leadership experiences across campus, I always have inclusive excellence in my heart to support every single person in the community, so they do not have to experience what I have faced before or contribute to discrimination. Serving as the Vice President of Student Affairs at Graduate Student Assembly, I aim to foster an engaging and inclusive space on campus. For example, I co-hosted Graduate Student Town Hall last fall to address the unique concerns graduate students have related to COVID-19.
What do you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
After graduation with my master’s degree, I hope to pursue a career in higher education, especially working in social justice education and empowering marginalized students.
What or who inspires you?
“It is important to remember that fighting for social justice is not a sprint. It’s not just something you do in college for four years, and then you burn yourself out, and you move on. It’s a marathon, it’s something that you can spend your whole life doing.” — Helen Zia, Journalist and Activist for Asian American and LGBTQ rights
What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact?
I have two suggestions for other students who are looking to make an impact.
First, embrace your heritage and background. Everyone needs to learn the true history of their family and culture, so they can truly accept and remain open-minded to other perspectives.
Second, start small, but be determined. It only takes a few people to organize an event or start a movement.