Michelle is smiling at the camera holding a sign at what appears to be a protest.

MICHELLE, who identifies as Asian, American, and Queer, is an active volunteer with APIENC. She is part of the Communications Committee and has also helped coordinate APIENC events. Michelle is also a software engineer during the day.

Michelle volunteers with APIENC to stay connected and give back to a community that is very important to her. Ever since she was younger growing up in the Midwest, she remembers feeling guided by the experiences of belonging to disparate pieces of a single but fractured identity — being Asian at home and American at school. After moving away from the Midwest and finding herself in San Mateo (CA), Michelle volunteered with Rape Trauma Services as a sexual assault counselor. It was her first direct exposure to trauma informed spaces. Much of what she learned there has informed perspectives that she has now. Although she met incredibly resilient people whom she admired, it ended up being an anxiety-inducing experience for her, because, in her words, “I’m not even very good at talking to people who aren’t in crisis at the moment.” Michelle hopes that one day, the LGBTQ API community will feel content and free enough that there will be less need to be advocating for ourselves, and we can harness more energy to be allies to other causes and communities.

Michelle’s favorite APIENC moment: meeting MLin at Anderson Bakery for the first time after filling out the volunteer interest form. She remembers enjoying awkward silences between conversation and thinking, “This is someone I can get along with.” A fun fact about Michelle is that she only encountered Spam Musubi a couple of years ago, despite the fact that Spam is from her home state of Minnesota. She thought the concept was really weird at first but she likes it a lot now!