Jeffrey Tsang thinks of himself as a non-traditional international student — he’s from Hong Kong, but went to an international school for 12 years and traveled frequently around the world. He speaks English fluently, and his sister came to Oregon State for graduate school, so he already had a support system in place before starting school. Tsang understands these things make him more privileged than the typical international student, and he works hard at creating an inclusive and diverse community for both international students and students in general at Oregon State.
Tsang started working with Cultural Meals Support Program in the Student Events and Activities Center his freshman year, providing food for student organization events and helping students plan menus for their cultural nights.
“That’s when I really got involved with campus,” Tsang says. “It really helped me transition from Hong Kong and high school, into college.”
Tsang met these and other new opportunities with enthusiasm. He worked next in the Office of the Dean of Student Life, became a Resident Assistant his sophomore year in the International Living Learning Center and was soon offered a higher position within University Housing and Dining Services as the Community & Leadership Development program assistant. He was also won the E.C. Allworth Cultural Awareness Leadership Award for 2012-13.
“Being an international student puts a different perspective on things,” he explains. “Being cognizant of the diverse student populations that we work with is really important.”
Fostering a diverse community is at the heart of Tsang’s college experience, and he takes special interest in campaigns that promote inclusivity and reduce intolerance. In his second year, he was one of three students leading Everyone Matters @ OSU, a national campaign promoting inclusivity and non-judgment of students, faculty and staff and supporting the diversity mission of the University.
During winter term 2014, Tsang helped start “I, Too, Am OSU,” a movement created to raise awareness of racist incidents on campus and engage in proactive efforts against prejudice. One of their events was held in the Memorial Union quad, and encouraged students to write their experiences on paper and be photographed with it, creating an entire album of voices.
“The sharing of stories is a powerful thing” Tsang says. “That campaign really gained momentum. It showed that our community doesn’t support [racist] behaviors, and that we’re doing something about it.”
Working to make students feel safe and comfortable is something that Tsang is committed to, both in his personal and professional life. He’ll graduate with a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences with a Human Services option. In the fall, he’ll start a Masters in Education at the University of Vermont, studying Higher Education and Student Affairs.
“That’s something I really want to do, working at a college or university,” Tsang says. “Helping students transition, getting them involved, looking after their development through the years — it reflects the experience that Oregon State has given me.”