Last summer the Department of Homeland Security issued operational guidance that all international students could face possible deportation if they attended U.S. schools that were operating entirely online in fall 2020.
At that point in the COVID-19 pandemic, it was uncertain how colleges and universities would open for the fall.
Nebraska Wesleyan University senior Hyeonju Wang started advocating for fellow international students here and across the U.S. who contribute to the academic, creative and economic fabric of the country.
“Thanks to her advocacy and all efforts from U.S. higher education institutions, the policy was rescinded,” said Yoko Iwasaki-Zink, international student advisor.
Wang, a political science major and communication studies minor from Hebron, is this year’s Advocate for Diversity Award winner.
Wang, who immigrated to Nebraska from South Korea, has been active on the university’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, International Relations Organization and Student Affairs Senate.
As part of an independent study, she studied how students of color feel on NWU’s campus and used qualitative and quantitative data analysis for her research in an effort to improve diversity and inclusion on campus.
Wang was a student instructor in an Archway Seminar for first-year students titled, “Transnational Migration, Global Citizenship and Belonging.” The course explored national identity by considering how borders separate people and how those separations might influence how people view others who live on the other side or cross over.
“She led the class through intense but important topics,” said senior Samantha Redfern. “She is constantly laying the seeds for people to understand their role in these systems of inequality while giving them the tools to take action themselves.”
“In taking classes with Hyeon,” Redfern added, “I have constantly observed her ability to bring in a perspective that otherwise would have fallen through the cracks. She doesn’t let assumptions go uncontested and raises the bar for her peers and professors.”