University of Washington - Seattle - Jody Tran

Most Outstanding VSA Member of the Year Nomination: Jody Tran

Why was this person selected as “Member of the Year” for your organization? What was the criteria to be a recipient of this award?

As a leader, Jody is empowering in every way. This is her third year as a VSAUW officer. In the time period prior to our last executive nominations, Jody was at a crossroad. She had to think critically about how her journey with VSAUW would end. To her, it still felt incomplete despite having accomplished so much as Media Intern, then Media Chair in the two years she’d been on the officer team. When she looked at Hoa Khoi Lien Truong two years ago, she saw how much the participants grew and came into their own as intelligent, powerful women. She wanted to be a part of that, but she knew she did not want to simply be a participant. It came to her that in order to bring the VSAUW journey full circle, she needed to not be a part of the officer team, but she needed to be the leading force behind making Hoa Khoi Lien Truong happen. She was a President of a twenty-person team. She was the visionaire behind the culture show that packed a 300-person auditorium. She volunteered her time every Monday to work personally with each and every participant, and even sacrificed her time to drive these women to community and volunteering events. She did all this, and never once did she falter, because she had a dream.

From the moment Jody decided to run for President, she had a vision for VSAUW. She wanted to change the culture surrounding VSA, to push us beyond what we were: Merely a place where people come to have fun. She changed our Constitution in a bold move that will absolutely have lasting impact on VSAUW and the VSA culture for the years to come. She wanted to assert that VSAUW is not only a group that promotes friendship between our members, it also aims to educate others about the Vietnamese culture, and encourage critical actions that can change our community for the better. She added the Civic Engagement pillar to our Constitution in order to make this reality. She gave us guidelines to fulfill this pillar: Learning, Educating, and Taking Actions. Jody truly wanted VSA to be more. More than the status quo. More than the surface level. More than what we were.

Describe the roles the nominee has held in his/her community and how these roles have influenced your organization. Provide examples.

Outside of her achievements within VSAUW, Jody is a strong member of the Seattle Vietnamese community. She is always ready to volunteer at events, and ready to be in conversation with the community members about their needs and experiences. She is also extremely supportive of our sister VSAs, this fact apparent through her support of their general meetings and programmings. Whatever our fellow VSAs need or the community needs, she is there to lend an ear and a hand to help. In previous years, Jody has seen the way that the communities shifted, and saw that VSAUW needed to do something fundamental to itself in order to be the strongest support for the community possible. Jody has been present at marches and rallies in order to reaffirm the Vietnamese community in Seattle. With her strong ties to the community and culture, she was always ready to support VSAUW in organizing programming with a strong social justice core, such as an anti-deportation forum and a Southeast Asian career panel.

What qualities does the nominee have that makes him/her stand out within your organization? Provide examples.

Jody is an outstanding presence within our VSA and the Vietnamese community around us. There are many qualities that Jody possesses that made her the uncomparable leader she is. Jody is compassionate, hardworking, dedicated, and vibrant. Though she might come off as quiet in meetings, once you get to talk to Jody, you will realize that she is someone you can really depend on. This is has shone through again and again, as Jody is always the first to volunteer to drive people to and from VSA-sponsored events. Whenever our officer team wants to attend meetings at Seattle University to show support, Jody will gladly be our designated driver. At these meetings too, she is willing to be out of her comfort zone and participate in all activities. Her hardworking side is especially prominent during the months leading up to Hoa Khoi Lien Truong. Jody tirelessly balanced managing our officer team, the HK participants, the dance instructor, and external contributors. Even though these roles were delegated to all officers, Jody would ask us for updates constantly and offer help and alternatives if we were struggling to meet deadlines. She is dedicated; no one who isn’t would brave the terrains of a new Constitution in order to make the organization better than it was in the past. Jody’s vibrancy is a trait that draws people to her, and one that made her term as President so enjoyable. She has a unique outlook on life, one that each and every officer learned from, no matter how different the lesson. Jody Hoang Oanh Tran is an irreplaceable part of our VSA. She has made her mark as one of the all-time greats, and she deserves to be recognized as the treasure she is on the UNAVSA stage.