Week 6: A Growing Appreciation for CAUSE

Thanh Mai of the 2019 CAUSE Leadership Academy

Despite being unable to attend the third CLA Workshop, CAUSE was constantly on my mind as I experienced my first and last freshman orientation! Through every workshop and person I encountered during my orientation at the University of California, Los Angeles, I was given the opportunity to first-handedly witness how the CAUSE Leadership Academy has truly shaped my values and expanded my perspectives on a variety of issues.

On the first day of the New Student Orientation, I was placed in a group of nine with my New Student Advisor, Jalen. As I began to introduce myself to the other students both within my group and from different groups, I noticed that the majority of students present were of APIA representation, despite being social sciences and humanities majors. Through this, I started to personally witness my generation breaking down the stereotypes perpetuated by the model minority myth. The countless conversations I have engaged in through CLA regarding the model minority myth has allowed me to understand the importance of APIA representation in higher education in non-STEM fields. I had the privilege of conversing with so many students of color who wished to pursue the social sciences due to their passion in civic engagement and activism.

Thanh Mai of the 2019 CAUSE Leadership Academy attending UCLA Orientation

With those same students that I had briefly met, I attended a workshop on Study Abroad and Internships. At this workshop, the presenters introduced a program with the Center of American Politics and Public Policy (CAPPP) in which students would spend a quarter in Washington, D.C. and participate in an internship while remaining a full-time UCLA student. In this moment, I was especially grateful to CAUSE and the CLA program. Due to my exposure in the elected sector as an intern at the Office of Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, I knew for a fact that this was a program I wanted to be a part of. CAUSE has so clearly been significant in helping me decide how I want to impact this world as a member of the APIA community.

In addition to the UCDC CAPP program, I have also decided to apply to the University of California Student Organizing Summit! This Summit intends to bring together a strong and diverse group of student activists with a desire to learn more about current issues revolving around the UC system, and how to overcome and handle those issues. Its mission is to create a coalition of students who are willing to fight for change that the UC system needs. Through this, I continue to see CAUSE in everything I decide to do. Before CAUSE, I lacked the motivation and faith that I was an individual capable of promoting change. Now, I am understanding why all the CAUSE staff members continue to engrave the idea that we are all leaders. As CAUSE staff member Richard Leong is always telling us, “We are all uniquely qualified to lead in these spaces.”

CLA has given me the validation and experience that has prepared me for the next chapter of my life. Though initially unforeseen, the CAUSE Leadership Academy has truly served as a transitional program that has exposed me to the struggles and issues within the APIA community and helped me obtain knowledge through the different backgrounds and perspectives of everyone I have met. I can’t wait to find out what CLA has in store for me as we approach the end of the program!