PICTURED (from left to right): 2016 President Linda Zheng, 2016 Public Relations Chair Lucy Liu, and Northeast Regional Coordinator Jeff Yu
Have you ever stumbled upon a place that you never knew you were looking for?
Growing up of Asian descent in a predominantly white community from grade school, to high school, to college, I became accustomed to being the one that stuck out. As I grew older, two things began to happen: I became better at playing along with the racist jokes, and those same jokes started to sit heavier on mind. I realized that in order to survive, I needed to adapt, even if it came at the cost of my own pride. Every story about a bad foreign driver, it was me behind the wheel. Every joke about eating cats, I bit my own tongue.
My friend groups consisted of Caucasian peers until about my junior year in college when I joined SASE. The cycle of self-deprecation finally ended. I was surrounded by a community that gave me the acceptance that I was never fully able to get elsewhere. No longer did I feel pressured to live up to those Asian stereotypes, but I could now live up to who I am.
For me, SASE has always been about the people. I continued with the organization as a volunteer after graduating from the University of Delaware. I took on a role of leadership and hoped to inspire others while staying connected with the family that I found. Along the way, I made friendships that will last a lifetime and memories that will last several.
I found my refuge, and I hope you find yours.
Jeff (top middle in the blue) is one of the Regional Coordinators for the Northeast Region. He oversees chapters in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia area along with representing the Northeast for SASE Junior. Jeff graduated in 2015 from the University of Delaware with a degree in chemical engineering with minors in chemistry, environmental engineering, and economics. Since then, he has been working for the Department of Defense as a Nuclear Engineer in Virginia.