Categorized | Features

Scotlight

A weekly inside look at the unique faces and personalities that make up The College of Wooster community.

Sally Kershner
Features Editor

What sparked your involvement in activism?

I guess even from an early age, even when I didn’t know as much, if I saw any sort of injustice occurring, I felt I needed to speak up about it. In middle school, I was featured on a local radio show where I spoke about issues pertaining to the Asian American community. When I came to the College, I began exploring my identity more, and that’s when I started seeing more of what goes on in the world and what the world is like. I really believe in the idea that you need to care about issues that might not be only your own.

The most major thing that solidified that I am passionate about this and want to continue activism work was the summer of 2016. I got involved in Letters for Black Lives, an international letter project. From there, I was featured in a couple of interviews, and got the chance to travel to conferences and speak about the issue.

This summer, I was able to present on Asian American anti-blackness at the Minidoka Pilgrimage in Idaho. Pilgrimages are events where Japanese Americans visit the concentration camps our families were incarcerated in during World World II. It was especially impactful for me given that three of my grandparents were incarcerated. Because of the Letters for Black Lives project, a lot of the focus of the work I’ve done has been on anti-blackness in the Asian community.

Why do you feel it’s important to make S.T.E.M. an intersectional space?

I think a lot of times, the issues in marginalized communities get ignored if S.T.E.M. isn’t intersectional. A lot of scientists like to think they are unbiased and must uphold objectivity, which includes not speaking out or not letting identities get in the way. But the truth is that nobody is unbiased and everybody has opinions. I really think the entire scientific community could benefit from more diverse perspectives. This includes diversity and inclusivity in demographics, but also in the way that people think.

Something I see here at this college is that S.T.E.M. majors get so caught up in the sciences and a sort of superiority of their major that they don’t find value in humanities and social sciences. I think that’s a mistake and a huge disadvantage to both The College of Wooster community and the scientific community at large.

I want to see the science community have more of a focus on marginalized people. I think most of the benefits go to the most privileged in society, and I am not sure that will change until there is a greater number of us demanding that we shift the focus. Scientific studies are supposed to make the world a better place. We can’t fully do that while ignoring issues, refusing to speak out or making our research inaccessible to the public.

How do you defy the odds?

I really aim to break the stereotype of “typical Asian American” and that we are really classified as the silent minority or apathetic; I want to break out of that. I always feel different or an imposter in the sciences as well — I feel that I almost sort of have like a humanities-focused heart, and I take that with me in my classes and my research. My I.S. is very interdisciplinary as well.

How has Wooster helped you define your identity?

Surprisingly, despite Wooster being a predominantly white institution and having to face a lot of difficulties in regards to that, I have been able to get out of my comfort zone more, probably because I came from an even less diverse community.

I really think I was not exposed to a lot of different perspectives in Oregon. I think that taking myself out of that community where I already had friend group established, I came here and I had zero people from school and zero friends and I had to explore where I fit in.

I think the international population has helped me as well; I find myself in both of those communities because of my American and Japanese upbringing. I can relate to both the domestic and international communities.

What is your guilty pleasure?

I’m obsessed with miniature things. I don’t know if it’s a weird complex thing of me because I’m small, or what. I follow miniature accounts on Instagram.

This post was written by:

- who has written 778 posts on The Wooster Voice.


Contact the author

Leave a Reply