The 22-year-old Alhambra resident graduated summa cum laude as part of Cal State LA’s Class of 2022, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Asian and Asian American Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He is the first in his family to graduate from a four-year university.
Hu served as the student speaker for the College of Ethnic Studies at the Commencement ceremony for the College of Ethnic Studies and College of Natural and Social Sciences on May 24.
“Whatever path you take, be unapologetically you. If you are angry at the systemic injustices facing your community, show it and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be angry. Don’t let anyone tell you that your culture isn’t worth the spotlight,” Hu said to his fellow graduates. “And if you ever get to a point where you don’t believe in yourself, believe in the me that believes in you, believe the instructors of color, many of which were on the frontlines in movements supporting our existence in these spaces, that believe in you. Whether at Cal State LA, a different program, or outside of academia, the path forward will not be easy, but you aren’t alone. Every single one of us believes in you.”
A Dean’s list student, Hu excelled in his studies at Cal State LA and was a member of the Cal State LA Forensics Speech and Debate Team. He also served on the Cal State LA Forensic Speech and Debate Team’s executive council in 2020-2021.
He received multiple awards during his time at Cal State LA, including winning first place in both impromptu and communication analysis and second in extemporaneous speaking in the Crossman Invitational, a forensics tournament hosted by El Camino College in fall 2019.
Most recently, Hu placed third in extemporaneous speaking and second in impromptu speaking at the American Forensics Association National Speech Tournament in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was the national runner-up in the after dinner speaking category at the 2022 National Forensics Association National Tournament held in Normal, Illinois.
Hu, who hopes to pursue a career as a teacher and a forensics coach, has been accepted into the master’s degree program in communication studies at Cal State LA. He’ll begin his studies at Cal State LA in the fall, with plans to also pursue a master’s degree program in Asian American studies in the future.
In 2017, Hu enrolled at East Los Angeles College with the plan of becoming a doctor. But through his coursework, he eventually realized his passions were public speaking and ethnic studies.
“Some of my favorite readings involve the intersection of disciplines like communication studies and ethnic studies, so I wanted to do both and intersect their research,” says Hu, who transferred to Cal State LA in fall 2019 after completing his associate degree in communication studies from ELAC. “I am not only interested in understanding the history and narratives of [the] APIDA community, but also in how rhetorical practices systemically embedded in our society continue to marginalize the APIDA community to this day.”
Growing up in the San Gabriel Valley helped Hu see the importance of advocating for the APIDA communities and of dispelling stereotypes of Asian Americans.
“We do our communities, our families and our colleagues a disservice when we are not actively being critical of the systemic ways that our communities are marginalized, so I want to make a difference in the future by critiquing and abolishing those systemic issues in our communities—and my mentors at Cal State LA have given me the tools to do just that,” he added.
At Cal State LA, Hu served as a student representative for the university’s Department of Asian and Asian American Studies, promoting student well-being, making advisement and other educational opportunities more accessible to his peers and advocating to create an Asian American studies master’s program.
Hu said that the university’s uplifting community helped him overcome challenges and succeed during his time in college.
“I can’t speak for everyone, but in my three years here, I met so many amazing, critical and passionate scholars who have supported me in ways I could never imagine,” he says. “And this support isn’t just in academia; it is also in our mental well-being and our ambitions outside of class.”
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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni.
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