VSA Speaker: Richie Le

VSA Speaker: Richie Le

Earlier this week, my organization (Vietnamese Student Association) had its last event of the academic year. It was a great event to celebrate the Vietnamese Diaspora and the new generation that came out of it. For instance, my mother was a Vietnam war refugee and came to the US for a better life; the new generation would be people like me who are born in the US. This generation tends to be more Westernized and less cultured on their roots in terms of language, traditions, and more.


As a new-generation person myself, I know it is challenging. The culture clash between Western and Eastern was sometimes overwhelming when I was young, especially language. At home, everyone would speak Vietnamese and when I got to school everyone spoke English. There were words and terms I knew in Vietnamese that I had trouble translating into English and vice versa. Not only that, but the culture was extremely different. I had learned a lot of respect and manners at home that were more/less relaxed at school. As time progressed, I understood my background more and accepted the two dynamics I was living in. As a first-generation college student, I realized I was on my own. I needed to learn things for myself because my family could not help (lack of knowledge and experience) with college applications and so much more. Through trial-and-error, I became more independent and took on as many opportunities as I could. I designed the American Medical Student Association t-shirt and participated in its organization, I became an Achieving College Excellence scholar, and finally became a student organization president.

I realize that I have to work so many times harder than the average person, to be successful. Given my background (and other personal reasons), I have to do my best. In order to be successful, you HAVE to take on any opportunities that come your way and build connections. Exhaust all your resources and let things happen. Even if you fail, you gain experience and learn from your lesson. And remember, its better to have experience than not have any experience at all.

At the beginning of my term in August, I wanted to bring a well-known speaker that had ties to Vietnam. I wanted to find someone that exemplified new-generation success, had experience doing VSA events, had a manageable quote,  and was someone even non-Asians might even know of (given Loyola’s demographic). With all factors considered, Richie Le was the best candidate. With the Fall of Saigon being on April 30, it was appropriate to save this event to the month of April and end the VSA term on a good note.

Richie is an amazing person. He has a successful YouTube channel with over 800,000 subscribers and over 130,000,000 video views of sketches, raps, and vlogs. Not only that, but he now runs his own clothing brand out of Seattle, Washington. He has always had a passion for sneakers, fashion, and Asian American lifestyle & culture. During our event, he shared his story and it was quite interesting to see how he was able to overcome the challenges. With the help of his producer, Gabe Tran, we learned to take advantage of any opportunities that comes our way and to never give up. To say in the least, I know that the students’ self-esteem did go up– there was so much positive energy through smiles, laughs, and more.

Applying this to my life, I tend to take on any challenge that comes my way. Though I am an introvert, I make an effort to improve, gain experiences, and connect with others. As Richie is able to connect with the youth through Youtube, I am able to connect the Loyola community through my organization’s events. I’ll continue to strive for success because ultimately, anything can be at my fingertips if I really try.

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