Asian American Progressive Student Union (AAPSU) was founded in the summer of 2020 by Amy Zhai and May Soemin. AAPSU is an organization that hopes to unite progressive Asian American student leaders and promote racial equity in the Asian American community.
This organization aims to address the racism within the Asian community and form alliances with other people of color. The purpose of AAPSU is to: create networks with other minority groups and produce translated educational resources and workshops to combat racism, colorism, and anti-blackness in our community; work with other advocacy organizations in order to address the segregation within MCPS; promote community development; promote Asian American rights and representation, and increase civic engagement within the Asian communities.
Although AAPSU was founded in Montgomery County, Maryland, we are expanding to other states across the country from South Carolina to Oregon. Each region focuses on issues that are relevant to them and will work with the main organization to provide the public with means of actions/education. Please email us through the contact page if you’re interested in forming a chapter in your state!
To unite progressive Asian American student leaders and promote racial equity in the Asian American community.
Letter From the Founders:
Amy Zhai & May Soemin
Dear Asian American progressive students:
I understand how difficult it can be to make your voice heard for the first time. Like some of you, I grew up in a majority-white area where fitting myself into the model minority stereotype was an expectation and a reality. Not long ago, I shared the same prejudiced views as my conservative Chinese American community, affirming the divide between us and other communities of color.
It was when I moved to a more diverse school that I began challenging these beliefs and underwent a long, arduous journey that turned me from someone who cringed upon saying “social justice” to unironically identifying myself as an SJW. I met my Co-founder, May Soemin, at one point in this process, and we discussed our identities and the lack of an outlet for Asian American progressive students to unite. Soon, we realized we needed to turn our beliefs into action -- and now write to you here, welcoming you to our mission and work.
This current moment is a critical one unlike any I’ve ever witnessed, where we have the chance to either stand with other communities or affirm our role as stakeholders in white supremacy. I realize the damage a lack of solidarity and empathy can cause (having once lacked it myself), and thank you for embracing this as well. Through AAPSU, we hope you can find a community of like-minded individuals and a vigorous culture of change. We extend you this invitation with open arms, and cannot wait for you to become part of our team.
Co-Founder and Former Co-President (2020 - 2021)
Meet our Team
Kelly Ji is a senior at Wootton High School in Rockville, MD. After becoming involved in AAPSU before their junior year, they rapidly became invested due to the impactful nature of their work and eventually, became the president for the upcoming year. Her achievements in the last year have created a strong sense of anticipation for what she is able to accomplish this year. She hopes to promote awareness in the MCPS community and advocate for increased Asian American involvement in the country.
Arvin Kim is currently a junior attending Walt Whitman High School. Arvin joined AAPSU in order to promote opportunities for students to get involved and currently works on student advocacy efforts as the Vice President. he is looking forward to connecting with other students and leaders in the community!
Emily Tran is currently an 11th grader attending Clarkburg High School in Clarksburg, Maryland. Emily joined AAPSU in order to make a positive impact on communities as a whole. She currently works as a secretary. As the secretary, Emily creates documentation and ensures effective communication between the executive board members, and non-members of AAPSU. She is excited to be a part of an awesome group of students working towards a better future.
Policy & Advocacy
Michelle Wong is currently a junior at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD. Michelle joined AAPSU in order to cultivate a local community of Asian American activists and currently works on developing tangible policy solutions to issues affecting all Asian Americans as an Advocacy and Policy Director. She is excited to help AAPSU grow and make some more change in local, regional, and national legislative circles.
Event Coordinator Director
Ela Jalil is a senior at Winston Churchill High School, and the Event Coordinator for the AAPSU. She is so excited to work with the AAPSU, and help address the problems within and towards the AAPI community. She is very proud of her South Asian heritage and looks forward to addressing important issue with the events that the AAPSU holds this year. In her free time she loves to read, write, and watch TV!
Community Accessiblity Director
Shuxin is a junior at Richard Montgomery High School and serves as Community Accessibility Director for AAPSU. She deeply values the organization's missions and its commitment to the spread and easy access of information for all.
Kalina is a senior at Richard Montgomery High School. Kalina joined AAPSU to help make sure that no voices are being silenced, and she works to reach out to other community organizations and leaders as the Director of Outreach. She's super excited to see what growth the year will bring!
Policy & Advocacy Director
Tanirika is currently a sophomore in the Global Program at Poolesville High School. She joined AAPSU to help address issues that the AAPI community faces. As one of the Policy & Advocacy Directors, she is working to develop policy goals and advocacy events pertinent to benefiting the AAPI youth. She is so excited to be a part of an amazing team and is looking forward to working with everyone this year!
Public Relations Director
Caroline Moe is currently a senior attending Richard Montgomery on Rockville, MD. She joined AAPSU in order to help strengthen political efficacy in her local AAPI community and beyond. She currently works on Public Relations as the Co-Director and is very excited to promote all of the amazing action-taking events this year on the board!
Sinny Ye is a senior at Winston Churchill High School and is ecstatic to be a part of AAPSU as the treasurer. She is a proud Chinese American who joined AAPSU to help address the racism towards the AAPI community as well as spread awareness toward such issues. In her free time, Sinny likes to watch movies, paint, and play games.
Policy & Advocacy
Alex Nguyen is currently a senior attending Springbook High School in Silver Spring, MD. Alex joined AAPSU in order to promote a larger Southeast Asian presence in MCPS and currently works on advancing AAPSU's student demands such as disaggregating racial data and diversifying curricula to include Asian-Americans from wall walks of life as one of the Advocacy and Policy Directors. He is excited to learn more about contemporary issues surrounding the AAPI community and distinguish major differences in the Asian diaspora.
Pragya is a senior in the Humanities program at Poolesville High School, Maryland. She joined this organization with the intent of tackling the issue of racism in and toward the Asian American community, promoting Asian American civic engagement, and encouraging educational equity. As an AAPSU Co-Director of Public Relations, she works to create content regarding important AAPSU updates and relay this relevant information out to the public on various platforms. Other than advocating and volunteering, she loves to do anything related to music, learn about neuroscience, read, and write!
Christie Cao is a senior at John F. Kennedy High School in Montgomery County, MD. Christie joined AAPSU in order to help raise awareness about Asian American issues and works on updating AAPSU's website, sending newsletters, and uploading AAPSU's YouTube videos as the Webmaster. She is excited to collaborate with other members of AAPSU and see the organization expand further!