Sophia Nguyen never pictured herself as a government major, but she realized that to accomplish her goal of fighting discrimination, she needed the knowledge that comes from studying policy and government.
Now the native of Chesapeake, Virginia, is a senior in the Schar School of Policy and Government and serves as the incoming president of the George Mason University student body.
In addition, this summer the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants scored an internship at no less than the White House, working to eliminate hate against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities.
Nguyen’s reason for fighting AAPI hatred was fueled by the rising attacks against those vulnerable communities, which were maligned by the previous presidential administration during the outbreak of COVID-19. Further inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests in wake of the killing of George Floyd, she wanted to make a change and fight for AAPI communities.
Her passion fueled her ambition. “I wanted to be more active rather than just be posting on social media,” she said.
Nguyen, an Honors College student, brings this energy to Mason while participating in organizations such as the Asian Pacific American Coalition and serving as chair of the University Life Committee and the Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Committee. She frequently engages in anti-racism activities and actively raises awareness of issues within Asian American communities, such as mental health.
Her leadership as an undergraduate has not gone unnoticed by the student body. After being elected to the student senate in 2020, Nguyen got to work, organizing events as well as being a vital bridge between students and the university’s administration.
Her student government career progressed when she ran for president in the spring 2022. She aggressively campaigned with vice president running mate Celine Apenteng and together they secured the highest vote count of any ticket since 2014, voted in by more than 900 students.
After assuming office, Nguyen organized events such as a Mason Farmers Market, a colorful event which not only helped students cope with the stress of finals, but also promoted small businesses.
One of her proudest accomplishments was spearheading a well-received Anti-AAPI racism panel, which brought activist from the AAPI community to campus to speak on their activism and raise awareness about hate.
The culmination of her on-campus accomplishments and her passion for AAPI activism led to the White House initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders internship, which is devoted to advancing equity, justice, and opportunity to those communities. In her role, Nguyen helps organize events and works on issues related to the AAPI community with White House representatives.
After graduation from the Schar School, Nguyen intends to continue her fight for AAPI rights and hopes to go into humanitarian work, particularly for people who have been affected by poverty and violence.
“I just want to help people in need and make people’s lives a little bit better,” she said.