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
Michelle Wong (she/her) is a senior and International Baccalaureate candidate at Richard Montgomery High School. She is excited to continue her journey with AAPSU after serving as Advocacy and Policy Director last year, and to continue working on data disaggregation and APIDA studies issues. This year, Michelle hopes to bring more awareness to data disaggregation and the mental health of Asian American students today.
Tanirika is a junior in the Global Program at Poolesville High School. She joined AAPSU in her sophomore year, and as vice president this year, she hopes to continue addressing issues that the AAPI community faces through advocacy and action. She is excited to be working with an amazing team and is looking forward to accomplishing more of AAPSU’s goals!
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
Paris (she/her) is a senior at Richard Montgomery High School. She's so excited to continue to work with AAPSU to dismantle the racism in Montgomery County as part of the advocacy department. In her free time, she's her school SGA treasurer and acts in the drama club.
Event Coordinator Director
Erin Kim is a junior at Walter Johnson High School! She is so excited to be a part of AAPSU and is looking forward to getting to work with everyone!
Community Accessiblity Director
Shuxin Dai is currently a senior at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD. Shuxin joined AAPSU in order to provide more people with easier access to information regarding Asian American issues as Community Accessibility Director. She is excited to be part of an amazing team and help AAPSU grow.
Mimi Le is looking forward to working with Asian American students from across the county! Outside of AAPSU, she is the SGA president of her school and the captain of the field hockey team. Mimi is also a part of the Asian Club at Springbrook!
Srihith Viswanathan will be serving as the AAPSU 22-23 Treasurer. Among advocating, he enjoys playing basketball, watching cricket, and spending time with friends. Srihith is looking forward to this year and can't wait to work with you all!
Kalia is a senior at Blake High School. She joined AAPSU to address internal and external issues in the Asian community. One of her passions is marketing so she is excited to be part of the PR team. In her spare time she plays club and high school volleyball, she is her school SGA events coordinator, and also works to advocate for the Thai and Cambodian community.
Christopher Li is a senior at Wootton High School serving as AAPSU's Webmaster. He joined AAPSU in support of Asian-American data disaggregation and his East Asian heritage. He also plays on his school’s volleyball team and enjoys skiing in the winter.
Pranavi Kamana is currently a junior attending Seneca Valley High School. Pranavi joined AAPSU to address the disparities present within society and to foster a more inclusive community for Asian students. She is so excited to see AAPSU grow and flourish!
Policy & Advocacy
Keerthi Thentu is a 9th grader at Richard Montgomery High School. Her passions include student advocacy, debate, dance, music, and more. She also loves listening to music, hanging out with her friends, traveling, and reading. Keerthi is so happy to be a part of AAPSU this year!
Savya Miriyala is a junior at Damascus High School. She joined AAPSU in order to address and spread awareness of the issues the Asian American community faces. As one of AAPSU's Public Relations Directors, Savya works with social media to communicate important information. She is looking forward to working with everyone and helping achieve AAPSU's goals.
Community Accessiblity Director
Oorja Munot is currently a freshman at Richard Montgomery High School, IB Program in Rockville, MD. Oorja has the exposure of educating herself in three diverse countries, India, Belgium and the USA, this empowers her to form deeper levels of partnership between ESOL students and AAPSU. She is committed to bringing a whole new meaning to what it means to be Community Accessibility Director. She is currently working to ensure that ESOL AAPI students are provided with equitable resources and opportunities by driving legislative changes.