University of Texas at Arlington

Most Outstanding VSA of the Year Nomination: University of Texas at Arlington

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

The Vietnamese Student Association at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTAVSA) was established in 1977 by a group refugees who fled a war-torn country and settled in Arlington for a better life. Over the years, different goals for VSA have developed, however, the mission for this organization, to preserving the Vietnamese culture and honoring those who came before us stays the same. Located in the middle of the metroplex that holds the 4th largest Vietnamese-American population, UTAVSA has had a record-breaking 200 members this past school year, with the main goals of continuing to promote Vietnamese cultural awareness on-campus and beyond, educating our members about the social issues happening within the Vietnamese community, and shaping the future of VSA through leadership, personal, and academic development.

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.

UTAVSA’s executive board has worked tirelessly to recruit members to become one of the largest student-run organizations on campus today. Before every Fall semester, VSA has attended every single new-student orientation to recruit members, and give them the opportunity to sign up for newsletters and emails in regards to upcoming VSA events. Furthermore, socials are hosted throughout the summer for old members and prospective members who are interested in joining VSA in the fall. Additionally, UTAVSA films an introduction video showcasing what VSA is, what it offers, and how joining VSA can positively impact one’s collegiate career. General biweekly meetings are held for members during a the time period the university has blocked off for an hour so that meetings will not conflict with their school schedule and opportunities for free memberships are given at general meetings.
Marketing techniques utilized by UTAVSA included taking advantage of our social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, GroupMe, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Youtube) and sending weekly emails to our members reminding them about upcoming events, intramural sports signups, and meetings. A particular platform that was heavily utilized was Facebook through event pages with original graphics for various events such as socials, general meetings, and special events like Date Auction to raise money for CPP, Lunar New Year Festival. Examples of promotional content included an introduction video to VSA, themed photoshoots with the officer team to promote events, and interviews with the school’s newspaper that is distributed to the entire student body.
UTAVSA has outreached to the campus community through collaborating with other student organizations for many events. On-campus organizations UTAVSA has collaborated this past school year were:

  • Beta Beta Chapter of Lambda Phi Epsilon International Fraternity Inc.
  • Filipino Student Association
  • Asian Student Association
  • Asian American Student Nursing Association
  • Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers
  • Chinese Culture and Language Association
  • Association of Latino Professionals For America
  • Korean Culture Association
  • International Student Organization

Additionally, UTAVSA has also maintained a strong relationship with the university’s provost and student ambassadors.
Throughout the school year many of the resources were utilized from a variety of sources whether it be through leadership development resources from UNAVSA and UVSA South to event planning sources from VSA the previous years. Financially, UTAVSA has excelled in raising funds for events throughout the school year, with monthly food sales and sponsorships. This past school year, UTAVSA had the honor to be sponsored by a variety of people and businesses including the Office of the Provost, Tiffiny Luong Beauty Academy, Beard Papa’s Cream Puffs, 7 Leaves Cafe, The Halal Guys, Kendra Scott, Gold Dust Studio, Farmers Insurance, The TFTI Experience, The Perfect Escape Room and more.
UTAVSA’s officer training included workshops covering different topics presented by previous officers and experienced leaders. Workshop topics included Leadership Development, Social Media Management and PR, Sponsorship 101, and UNAVSA/UVSA South 101. Additionally, incoming officers are highly encouraged to attend leadership events including UVSA South’s Camp Legacy and UNAVSA Conference. These leadership events and workshops assist in leadership development to further grow UTAVSA. In terms of event planning, all of the officers would collaborate to host different events such as socials that had more focus on casual and approachable socials like the park social and study nights, family socials that focused on family bonding and friendly competition, the annual Date Auction to raise awareness and raise money for UNAVSA’s CPP Beneficiary, the first Lunar New Year Festival that had a huge success, and VSA Week.

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?

One way UTAVSA maximized strengths and overcome weaknesses was through the establishment of strong goals and planning foundational aspects during the summer before school starts for officers. Additionally, every officer was given an equal opportunity during meetings to address issues and resolve them as a team. By utilizing past experiences, UTAVSA was able to repeat successful events from previous years while innovating them while taking into account the pros and deltas list for each event. To establish responsibility and accountability from officers, weekly in-person officer meetings were held to discuss upcoming events, plans, and different responsibilities as tasks were delegated amongst officers. By creating meeting minutes, a weekly list of action items, and keep track of attendance for meetings and events, officers are able to keep each other accountable.

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

Some examples of UTAVSA has grown tremendously this past school year included more exposure to UVSA South and UNAVSA to showcase the opportunities for our members to further develop their leadership skills, grow as a person, and network with VSA members on an regional and intercontinental level. In this case, UTAVSA was able to bring more than 30 members to UVSA South’s 7th Annual Leadership Summit and 8 members/officers to UNAVSA-15. With a strong presence on social media UTAVSA utilized platforms to hold a variety of contests and raffles to continue to increase the social media presence and market the events that were being hosted. On top of that, educating our members and raising awareness was brought to a new light to raise awareness, which included UNAVSA, UVSA South, CPP, civic engagement that included a “VSA Votes” day, and addressing the issue on Southeast Asian deportations, including Vietnamese deportations. On a professional scale, this year was the first year UTAVSA had guest speakers at general meetings, including speakers from companies like Amazon, Halal Guys, Beard Papa’s, Farmers Insurance, and more. Some businesses even came to offer internships that were exclusive for VSA members.

The 2018-2019 academic year also became the year that UTAVSA began to establish a strong presence and relationship with the local community off campus, with support from Texas’s District 6 Director Andy Nguyen, and Vietnamese Community of Tarrant County and Vicinity (Cộng Đồng Người Việt Quốc Gia Hạt Tarrant). UTAVSA has also been covered by multiple Vietnamese news for various events that were hosted and that UTAVSA attended. Another example of growth and development this past school year, was hosting the first Lunar New Year Festival on campus which provided a family friendly space for people to come out and enjoy their time. It was a small and free event that allowed for guests to show that the Vietnamese culture is still thriving within the UTA campus. The event also created a reaching hand to those who are not familiar with Vietnamese culture to learn more about it on campus.