Christopher Tam


Christopher TamThe mission of the Asian American Student Union (AASU) is to serve as an umbrella organization over the Asian/Pacific Islander American (APIA) community and the branching undergraduate APIA organizations. It strives to enhance and further the individual cultural and ethnic diversities that exist in the APIA community, and to address the problems and concerns of the APIA community to the university administration and other student organizations. The AASU motto is “Strength through Unity.”

As this year’s president of the Asian American Student Union, Chris Tam worked to bridge the mainstream American and APIA communities through mutual understanding and support. He furthered the organization’s goals in thoughtful and strategic ways. Under his leadership, AASU has become a stronger advocate for Virginia Tech’s Asian American students. The 2012 fall culture show demonstrated fundamental links between the Asian American diaspora, and the uniqueness of the Asian American experience. This year’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month theme, “Asian America: What Is. What could be?” transcended the celebration of Asian ethnicities, and engaged students in critical discussions about what it means to be Asian American. And for the first time in Virginia Tech’s history, AASU will provide a written brief about the needs of Asian American students. Chris is one of the authors of this document, which will inform diversity policy.

His nominator wrote, “As AASU president, Chris is an excellent conflict mediator. Traditionally, AASU acts as an informal resolution committee for its umbrella organizations, and Chris has been excellent in this capacity. Unlike many junior leaders, Chris has demonstrated the ability to depersonalize conflict and find amicable resolutions for both parties. His vision, actions, and personality speak to the character that Virginia Tech looks to develop in its student leaders.”

Chris states his philosophy succinctly: “My passion is pretty simple—just leave things better than I found them.” Chris’s resume reveals that he has done just that. In addition to his advocacy through AASU, Chris co-founded the Diversity Network, an organization that connects employers to minority students. He also co-founded and serves as chair of the Remembrance Foundation, a group dedicated to sustaining the solidarity built post-4/16, preventing future tragedies, and collaborating with like-minded organizations on community-building projects to deter violence and discrimination.

Surprised and humbled by his selection as an Aspire! Award recipient, Chris said, “There are so many great leaders on campus, and I feel extremely blessed to be recognized among them. What I tried to do is promote mutual understanding, mutual support, and a sense of community—just like many other student leaders on campus. I do not think I have an incredibly unique approach to this. I simply try to keep an open mind and thoroughly consider every option before moving to act.”

A dean’s list and university honors student, Chris is a senior who will graduate with degrees in economics and finance. After graduation, he will pursue a career in public service in the Washington, D.C., metro area. His parting advice to fellow students is, “Make sure to be aware of what you know and even more aware of what you do not know. For the first, you must be comfortable with the knowledge you already hold, so that when the opportunity comes, you can maximize your potential. For the second, you must always stay humble and realize that there is always more to learn.”

For his leadership skills in guiding this important student organization; for his diplomacy and care in handling conflict; for his advocacy on behalf of all students; and for his willingness to tackle the topic of what it means to be Asian American at Virginia Tech, Chris Tam is presented the Aspire! Award for CIVILITY.

2017-2018 Aspirations Breakfasts*

February 23, 2018
Owens Banquet Room, 8-10 a.m.

*Registration is required to attend the Breakfast.

Aspire! Awards History

Past Recipients

December 1, 2017 Recipients

DeAngelo Haynes - Curiosity
Hadley Carter - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Nick McDaniel - Civility
Stephanie Lemus-Ortiz - Courageous Leadership
Noah Jennings - Ut Prosim

Chris Wise – Self-Understanding and Integrity

October 27, 2017 Recipients

Jordan Kuhn - Curiosity
Joseph Walker - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Harley Curran - Civility
Fahad Ashraf - Courageous Leadership
Julia Monroe - Ut Prosim

Laurie Fritsch – Curiosity

April 21, 2017 Recipients

Bobby Hollingsworth - Curiosity
Annemarie Bresson - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Christopher Bardo - Civility
Nala Chehade - Courageous Leadership
Elizabeth Galbreath - Ut Prosim

Hillary KovacsUt Prosim

Robert and Kara JuliusUt Prosim
Jerry Colyer [posthumous award] – Ut Prosim

March 17, 2017 Recipients

Mitch Clements - Curiosity
Samantha Nichole DiBiaso - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Maria Jernigan - Civility
Manjot Kaur - Courageous Leadership
Stephen Pistoia, Jr. - Ut Prosim

Lt. Tony Haga – Courageous Leadership

February 17, 2017 Recipients

Danielle Jeffers - Curiosity
Colleen McGovern - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Min Kyung “Julie” Sim - Civility
Lamont “Gucci” Livingston - Courageous Leadership
Jacob Long - Ut Prosim

Alece Alderson – Civility

November 4, 2016 Recipients

Rhiannon Hasenauer - Ut Prosim
Zack Sever - Civility
David Gardner - Courageous Leadership
Zachary Hoopes - Curiosity
Bridger Johnson - Self-Understanding and Integrity

Jon Fritsch – Self-Understanding and Integrity

October 7, 2016 Recipients

Zachariah Ewen - Ut Prosim
Jordan Evans - Civility
Megan Lee Myklegard - Courageous Leadership
Alex Hamilton - Curiosity
Bryan Faulkner - Self-Understanding and Integrity

Catherine Cotrupi – Curiosity

April 22, 2016 Recipients
Samantha Hall - Ut Prosim
Charelle Berry - Civility
Audrey Semel - Courageous
Jess King - Curiosity
Mike Schoka - Self-Understanding
and Integrity

Frances KeeneUt Prosim

John GrahamUt Prosim

March 18, 2016 Recipients
Joe Frazier – Civility
Nina Miller – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Jacob Rosenthal – Curiosity
Haley BurgessUt Prosim
Tanushri Shankar – Courageous

Susan Anderson – Courageous

February 19, 2016 Recipients
Javier González-Rocha – Self-Understanding and Integrity
Obaid Rehman – Civility
Claire Kelling – Courageous
Meghan McLoughlinUt Prosim
Erica Nagotko – Curiosity

Anthony Purcell – Civility

November 13, 2015 Recipients
Kelsi Faley – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Nivedha Balan – Civility
Rachel Cotton – Courageous
Ryan HopkinsUt Prosim
Caroline Amodeo – Curiosity

Gladys Sartin– Self-Understanding
and Integrity

October 2, 2015 Recipients
Walter Gonsiewski – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Seyi Olusina – Civility
Skyler Mueller – Courageous
Anastasia MatusiewiczUt Prosim
Natasha Laramie – Curiosity

Vera Kidd – Curiosity

April, 2015 Recipients
Ankit Saigal – Curiosity
Baker Martin – Courageous
Nicole Selz
Self-Understanding and Integrity
Brett MontagueUt Prosim
Conor Cosgrove – Civility

Residence Life Resource Officer John TarterUt Prosim

Robby MoserUt Prosim

March, 2015 Recipients
Juan de la Rosa Diaz – Courageous
Jamaica Sykes – Curiosity
Luke Birch
Self-Understanding and Integrity
Jake VoorheesUt Prosim
Turki Saad Al-Zahrani – Civility

Captain Jim Snyder – Courageous Leadership

February, 2015 Recipients
Catherine Goggins – Courageous
Allison Laclede – Curiosity
Samuel Aguilar Chavez
Self-Understanding and Integrity
Larissa PeraraUt Prosim
Lauren Cashman – Civility

Jay Read – Civility

November 14, 2014 Recipients
Andrew George – – Courageous
Esther Moon – Curiosity
Kaleigh Leal – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Stephen Bennett Ut Prosim
Philip Norman – Civility

Scott Busiel – Self–understanding and Integrity

October 3, 2014 Recipients
Patrick AckerUt Prosim
Ethan Poole – Civility
Danielle Smalls – Courageous
Emily Neer – Curiosity
Austin Dickey – Self-Understanding
and Integrity

Robin Boucher – Curiosity

April 25, 2014 Recipients
Brent AshleyUt Prosim
Anna Isserow – Civility
Daniel Evans – Courageous
Jacalyn Polis – Curiosity
Neal Moriconi – Self-Understanding
and Integrity

Tricia SmithUt Prosim

March 21, 2014 Recipients
Meredith Cahill
Natasha Chadha
Wes Williams
Emma Cohen
Emily Blair

Belinda Pauley

February 21, 2014 Recipients
Meghan Gilliam
Steven Gethard
Kylie Gilbert
Ashley Taylor
Emily Brown

Kelley Woods-Johnson

November 8, 2013 Recipients
Jordan Disney
Kelly Berry
Daniel Pierce-Parra
Anusha Rizvi
Camryn Sorg

Lyndsy Manz

October 11, 2013 Recipients
Rob Grimm
John Turbyfill
Brendan Craig
Thomas Friss
Chris Atkins

Meredith Hampton