Like any other teenager, Lianne Luu just wanted to fit in and at her middle and high school, students of different multicultural ethnicities were not considered “cool.” As a result, Luu abandoned her culture and ethnic background. But, when she got to Penn State, everything changed.
“I didn’t realize that by leaving such a huge part of me behind just to get people to accept me, I was rejecting the history and all the struggles my parents went through to grant me the privilege of being born in this country,” says Luu.
When Luu, a senior, arrived at Penn State, she thought she was uninterested in joining an Asian-interest sorority. After attending a rush event, all her negative thoughts about joining a sorority that had to do with her ethnicity vanished. She ended up rushing, pledging and becoming initiated.
As Luu became more and more involved in Asian-interest organizations on campus, she was eventually voted the Internal Relations Director of The Asian/Pacific American Caucus, a position which serves as the voice for the Asian/Pacific American population at Penn State. After hard work and dedication to her position, she was voted president of the organization.
“Being looked at as the voice of the entire Asian/Pacific American population was terrifying, however I figured my peers recognized something in me that made them believe I was capable, and so I gave it my all,” says Luu.
The job wasn’t always easy for Luu, and she stressed over her leadership position, but she focused on giving back to her community and representing the part of her she had tried so hard to push away when she was younger. Luu’s hard work paid off and in 2015, she was honored with the “I Am APA” award and crowned Penn State’s Miss Asia.
Luu’s fellow APA constituents nominated her for the Miss Asia Pageant, which is something she “never would have guessed” she would be titled before attending Penn State. She performed a poetry slam piece for the talent portion of the pageant and wore a Chinese dress from her mom during the cultural wear portion. She also answered a series of questions concerning diversity and the Asian/Pacific community and was crowned Miss Asia 2015 at the end of the pageant.
“It was the most rewarding moment of my Penn State career, just because it proved how far I’ve come since my first day at Penn State and how much I’ve grown since then,” says Luu.
Luu says her passion for Penn State can’t be put into words, but she credits Penn State for turning her into the person she is today.
“I came into this school at 18 years old with no idea what I wanted to do with my future or who I wanted to become,” says Luu. “After almost four years, Penn State has taken me and shaped me into a confident individual, with a strong mindset and level head. For that, I’m eternally grateful for this school.”