For our Student Highlight this week, we interviewed Kris Cho (she/hers), a sophomore from Columbia, Missouri. Cho is concentrating in Public Policy and Ethnic Studies. Read more below:

How’s your year going so far?
Surprisingly okay. I’ve definitely had ups and downs but I think we’re either at net zero or net positive. I’m finally starting to put routines in my schedule and use new organizational methods that are working really well for me. That’s not to say I don’t have sophomore angst trying to navigate this institution, but I think I finally started taking care of myself in a way that’s much more intentional this year. Because of that I want to reward myself by saying I’ve been having a pretty good time. Also, I just saw my sister last weekend so that’s pretty great.

Can you tell me a bit about what you’re involved with on campus?
I’m involved with Brown Asian Sisters Empowered (BASE), a really amazing organization that really got me through my first year at Brown. It’s a really beautiful community of these incredible political Asian womxn that really just uplift each other and empower each other. I’m so so so fortunate to be part of it. 

I’m also involved with WORD! performance poetry. We are a POC/queer POC spoken word group and it’s really awesome. Also got me through my first year, also getting me through this year. I came into Brown not having done a lick of poetry and really wanting to get back to or find creative outlets. Storytelling was really important to me in a lot of different ways so I was kind of drawn to this group. It’s been really central to communities I’ve been able to find here and different outlets I’ve been able to find here. For the first time last year, I started calling myself a poet and that was really powerful. 

I also just joined the Brown Progressive Action Committee, which I have mostly interacted with via Facebook events and mobilization events that have popped up on my feed. I’m really excited for all the work that we’re doing with them. I did a lot of local politics back home in Missouri so I think especially last year I really wanted to get back to it. I think a lot of local politics is really important. There’s a lot of tangible change that comes from local politics. It gives me a sense of purpose and drive when things are happening where you can see them.

What does it mean to you to be UFLi?
I think it depends on the day. Sometimes it’s really tough, like seeing what I don’t have access to and seeing what some of my friends have access to. Sometimes it feels really heavy to know the almost invisible disparities that I know exist between me and other students, and sometimes even disparities within the community. I know and want to acknowledge that I have certain levels of privilege in this own community. I think on other days it’s really incredible to see the kind of spaces that UFLi students have created here. I am so so so grateful for the community and the love and the warmth that is so pervasive in this area and this space. Not this physical space right across from the SciLi – I feel like the SciLi radiates bad energy. Except for the 5th floor. Love you Renata and Julio. But yeah, I think the most marginalized identities come with an ability to be aware of certain things that the majority of campus is not aware of. Of course it’s frustrating sometimes, but also it’s really empowering to be like hey we have have this very important point of view that you can’t just read out of a textbook. I think that is really validating to the importance of existence. 

What community at Brown has been influential in making it feel like a home?
Honestly, to a certain extent Brown does feel more like a home than Missouri, just as a queer Asian person. Of course there are things I miss about Missouri but I think this is the first place where I’ve really been able to feel like I can be out and find spaces where I can explore what it means to be queer and Asian. I think BASE was a really great space for that just because there are so many queer Asian people who I really respect and look up to and love so so so deeply. I think Twitter also. Not going to expand on that, but Twitter.

Advice you’d give your first-year self?
It’s okay to not be okay. Transitions are really hard. You have the space to allow yourself to make mistakes, even though it feels like you can’t make those mistakes. Even though there are people that tell you you can’t make those mistakes. There are people around you and resources around you who will help you recover and grow, so it’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay to not be okay.