Victoria Vann Hometown: Lowell, Massachusetts
School/Major: UMass Lowell '13/Political Science | Ethnicity: Cambodian-American | Other Language(s): Khmer
Activities: Communications Director for Vesnua Nuon for Lowell City Council, the only Cambodian-American city councillor in Massachusetts (2011); Intern, Eileen Donoghue for State Senate (2010); Park Ranger, Lowell National Historical Park; Volunteer, Cultural Organization of Lowell; Performing Celtic, Cambodian and original music as part of the ensemble “The Celtic Angkor”
Who I am: I was born and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, where I still live. I have attended Massachusetts public schools all my life, from pre-school to kindergarten, middle school to high school, and now high school to college. My parents came to America from Cambodia in the 1980's as refugees of war and started a life here. My mother wanted me to get a good education and become anything I wanted to be, and she is so proud that I have made it all this way. I am the first person in my family to go to college. Since my parents divorced, I have worked very hard to be a leader figure in my brother and sister's lives, to help take care of my grandparents, and be a big helping hand to my mother whose past cannot be changed, but whose future happiness, I feel, somewhat lies in my hands.
I aspire to: make a difference and be a leader in my community and in government. Politics needs the perspectives of all peoples from all cultures, and all walks of life, including the voices of Cambodian-American women.
Having a support network throughout the fellowship program: At the end of each week during the program, it was so nice to be able to talk about my “day” at work with the other AAWPI fellows. Having weekly check-ins definitely made my experience enjoyable because I had a group of people who are like me to share my experiences with and to hear from about their experiences. And, we could all ask questions that we don't have an opportunity to ask in our offices sometimes.
What AAWPI means to me: Because of AAWPI, I have grown so much for someone who just graduated high school, started college, and am entering into the “grown up” world. It is really exciting, and because of this program, I just want to keep being involved in politics. I've learned from my experience and this program to believe in who I am as an Asian-American woman, to take opportunities that present themselves, and to accomplish great things for myself and my community.
Placement: Former State Senator Steven Panagiotakos (D-Lowell),
Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee (2007-2010)