Tony is the son of Vietnamese refugees. His parents fled Viet Nam from political persecution to provide the family a brighter future. His upbringing, Tony realized, was a pattern seen in many Southeast Asian communities; low-income, first-generation, and limited English. As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, Tony founded a student organization named Asian Coalition for Equality that highlights invisibilities of the Asian community. He also advocated at local, state, and national levels for resources and data that captures the realities of Southeast Asians and organized panels and presentations debunking the “model minority myth.” Tony believes in the power of communities to heal themselves. From 2009 – 2012, he took part in participatory action research for the Vietnamese community and learned their strengths and needs, culminating in a report used to advocate for resources for his community. In 2012, he founded an annual 5K walk/run with neighborhood friends to foster health, build community, and raise money for local nonprofits. This belief in communities led him to student leadership work in the community college system where he advised the Queer Straight Alliance and other organizations. From there he pursued an Ed.M. at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. He plans to continue work in higher education providing pathways for underrepresented students to enter, graduate, and leave as critical leaders. Tony is inspired by the resilience of his mom and sister who ground him in his identities and roots, supporting him on his journey in pursuit of higher education.

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