CCSRE Stories

Savannah Pham: “CSRE pushed me to learn more about and be involved in different communities.”

Savannah Pham, '18 - Photo: Eric Koziol

BA in Asian American Studies and Psychology

Growing up in a predominantly white, Southern California town, I didn't realize I was missing parts of my own culture. Most of the ties to my Vietnamese-Cambodian heritage were just through family members. When I came to Stanford, I didn't plan to become involved in any ethnic communities because I wanted to focus all my extracurricular activities around my career path: psychology. But, I realized that I wanted something to remind me of my family—something that would make me feel like I was at home. I found CCSRE early on in my freshman year, and it changed everything for me.

Now, as a senior about to graduate, I've been the co-chair of the Asian American Students Association and support Okada, Stanford's Asian American theme house. I was also the 2017 Miss Asian America and an advocate for Asian American Studies (AAS) at CCSRE.

"Maybe I should just major in this field," I thought, after taking a fascinating AAS class on the changing Southeast Asian American experience. I think that students are interested in the AAS major, but don't know what the career options are. Majoring in Asian American Studies doesn't mean that your only career path is becoming an Asian American Studies professor—you can tie the field into your own interests, for example, environmental justice within the wider Asian Pacific Islander (API) community.

Being open to how Asian American Studies intersects with other fields is key. My passion is destigmatizing mental health problems within the Asian American community, for example. There's still a generational divide about how mental health issues are perceived—I'd like to work toward social change through education.

CCSRE has enhanced my perspective on communities of color and their different needs and resources, and helped me become more comfortable with activism. In the current national climate, it's sometimes hard to think, "What can I actually do that will have an impact?" My goal is to create positive change that starts at the personal level, such as creating solidarity with other groups facing the same issues as the API community.