Vanuyen Pham, '18
Learning about my communities
"Why is sexual and reproductive health important to you?" I asked a student.
I'm back in high school for the day. As part of my summer internship with Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), I drove down from our offices in Sacramento to interview Southeast Asian American youth in Oakland about their access to sexual and reproductive health services.
The students described the difficulty they face around accessing services and products because of cost, on top of the cultural stereotyping that happens in neighborhoods where some of them live. The students were far more knowledgeable about the complexity of sexual and gender identity than I was when I was their age, and understood how fortunate they were that they went to a school with a clinic that provided what they needed.
This was just part of my summer at SEARAC, where I had an amazing and fulfilling experience through the Empowering Asian/Asian American Communities Fellowship. I outreached to congressional offices, followed the latest updates on the federal efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, contributed to reports on the impact of the ACA and inter-generational trauma on Southeast Asian American communities, and participated in legislative visits to the State Capitol. Through my experiences, I gained a better understanding of the power of community organizing and policy change and am passionate about pursuing postgrad opportunities in public health and public policy to advocate for my communities.