Monday, October 1, 2018

Brooke Larsen

Leadership skills are crucial in the classroom. 

Justin Le, a student in the UI College of Education Teacher Education Program, is developing his leadership skills both in his classes and through his involvement in several student groups. 

Le, who is also president of the UI Vietnamese Student Association (VSA), played a large role in securing Iowa as the host for a national Vietnamese student leadership summit. 

The leadership summit is Saturday, Oct. 13th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Iowa Memorial Union. The Black Box Theater and nine rooms are reserved for workshops and presentations. 

The summit is open to all Union Vietnamese Student Association-Midwest (UVSA Midwest) member schools and Midwest VSA's. A registration link for the summit opened Friday, Sept. 15. More than 70 spots were sold out in six hours, which has never been done before, says Le. 

While Le works hard in the classroom, he also devotes a lot of energy to his involvement in the UI Vietnamese Student Association – another way of educating and empowering people. 

This past summer, Le created and submitted a 25-page bid packet to UVSA Midwest. UVSA Midwest is a nonprofit organization that works alongside various Vietnamese organizations in the Midwest and is committed to expanding and fostering knowledge and tools to advocate for the Vietnamese community. 

Through special events and outreach projects, diverse members of the UI’s Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) work together to build appreciation for the Vietnamese heritage and Vietnamese-American values on campus. In addition to cultural awareness, the Vietnamese Student Association also encourages and promotes leadership development, team building, and personal growth. 

Leadership summit is an opportunity for leaders to come together and discuss issues that concern VSA as a whole organization. At this summit, members have the opportunity to showcase their local Vietnamese student organizations to other schools, discuss topics they feel are important at their state caucus, create impactful relationships through mentorship, and learn how to become a better leader. 

“We haven’t hosted an event in five years, so it’s pretty significant to host such a big event.” Le says. “We received so much support from the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations of the Midwest, and I’m so excited we get the opportunity to welcome VSA members from other universities to Iowa City.”

Creating safe, welcoming havens for all students

Le studies history with the all social studies endorsement through the UI College of Education. When he becomes a secondary social studies teacher, he hopes to create a space for students to approach different perspectives of history. 

“I want my future classroom to be a safe haven for students to feel comfortable to express themselves,” Le says. “Together, we will be allies for each other and grow together as the school year progresses.” 

As president of the University of Iowa VSA and co-director of marketing for the 12th annual Leadership Summit, Le is refining his delegation and adaptability skills. 

“Cultural competence and the ability to connect with diverse students will help me connect with future students so they feel more welcome and comfortable,” Le says. 

Le believes his experiences with the student organization will help him be an even better teacher leader. 

“Leadership summit is an intimate way to network, meet new people, and celebrate Vietnamese culture and Asian American awareness,” Le says. 

In addition to being the president of the UI VSA, he is a Hawkeye Teacher Student Ambassador, a group of students who serve as liaisons between the college and prospective students and local schools where they gain valuable leadership skills and experience in community and educational settings. 

“Being a student leader on campus is important because we have lots of privilege as higher education students. Using our platforms to develop and grow our local and campus communities builds unity and cultural competence among all community members,” Le says. I am thankful to be part of VSA and the Hawkeye Teacher Student Ambassador program, as both organizations allow me to stand up for those without the platforms or voices.” 

To learn more about VSA and the upcoming leadership summit contact Le at