University of Florida

Most Outstanding VSA of the Year Nomination: University of Florida

What are the purpose and goal(s) of the VSA, and how has the VSA met or exceeded those goals?

Our main goal this year was to increase the amount of money raised from our fundraisers, to increase member/freshmen retention, and to better our connections to outer VSAs. I believe we were very successful in those fields. We raised more money in our main fundraising event, Pho Fundraiser, than the previous semesters (Raised $3500 compared to $3000 from last year). Our freshmen rate skyrocketed this year, as we tripled the number of Freshmen. Our NewGen academy program, mainly for Freshmen, increased from 10 members to 30 members. As a result of this Freshmen rate, we had no trouble filling out our upcoming board for the next year. As for external communications with outer VSAs, we have definitely become more involved. Our school’s turnout to events such as Element, UNAVSA, and SELC has reached numbers unseen of in the previous years. Our members and officers have become more inclined to attend other VSA events such as UCF/USF/FSU’s cultural shows. I also believe that we have been more inclusive and welcoming as an organization. We purposely try to make people, especially freshmen, feel like we are their home away from home.

Address how the VSA was outstanding in the following areas: recruitment, marketing, outreach to campus community, use of resources (financial, etc.), officer training and event planning.

Like I stated before, the work of all our officers, especially our public relations directors, was vital to our drastic improvement in freshmen and retention rate. Their plugs on social media were creative and humorous, which urged others to attend our events. We have an active presence online and our recruitment on campus through tabling and gbm plugging were ways we were able to market to the UF population successfully. With our budget, we were able to host events that followed and emphasized our pillars. Through cultural shows, we were able to raise awareness towards Vietnamese culture. And through fundraisers like Pho Fundraiser, we were able to raise money towards our philanthropy. Overall, through each of our events, we strive to create a positive and welcoming atmosphere that would emphasize our pillar of phamily and make our organization a fun one. With training like officer manuals and workshops hosted through our NewGen academy, we are able to develop young leaders who will one day leave a lasting impact on the greater Vietnamese community.

How did the VSA work together? How did you maximize strengths and overcome weaknesses? How did the group work to establish responsibility and accountability among its members?

Of course with each new year comes a different dynamic. No board would ever be the same. So the most important way we worked together was our abilities to be adaptable and willing to change. Everyone has a different personality and a unique viewpoint, so each one of us has to adjust and be considerate of their views. With weekly meetings where minutes were recorded, we were able to stay organized and logistically sound. Through a task sheet, we were able to assign each person tasks and keep them accountable for their work. Most importantly, we established an environment that would be welcoming to others. By encouraging members to reach out if work was too overwhelming, we are able to reduce the burden felt by one specific person. This way, we can play up to the strengths of several members while overcoming weaknesses. Not just one person is forced to be on their own and in doing so we stress the importance of teamwork and responsibility not towards just yourself, but to those around you.

Provide specific examples of how the student group demonstrated growth and development in the 2018-2019 academic year.

Our freshmen rate this year increased from around 10 members last year to roughly 30-35 members this year. Our general body meetings towards the end of the year had increased attendance, indicating an increased retention rate. Our primary fundraiser, Pho Fundraiser, raised around 500 more dollars than the previous year. Our biggest growth was in our relations to outer VSAs, with increased attendance to regional events and individual school events.