Story by Sarah Sabatke
Victoria, Daphne and Alice Yu grew up in Columbia. Each sister has her own personality, interests and goals, yet each, for different reasons, chose to enroll at Mizzou. Their college experiences have differed in more ways that one but all three have shared one important role: the presidency of Mizzou’s Asian American Association (AAA).
Victoria Yu graduated from Mizzou in spring 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in human development and family studies. She currently serves as the program coordinator at the Carl A. Fields Center of Equality + Cultural Understanding at Princeton University.
Victoria was the first of the sisters to get involved in MU’s Asian American Association, serving as AAA president during the 2013–14 academic year. She oversaw all AAA activities, from general meetings to Asian American Awareness month. AAA was named one of the top five student organizations on campus that year. Victoria was also recognized as a part of Mizzou ’39 in 2015.
“This would not have been possible without the amazing individuals I worked with during my presidency,” Victoria says. “I am still to this day grateful for this experience.”
Victoria says AAA helped her to both become part of a community and to explore her various identities.
“It was the first time I didn’t feel alone and met people who had similar experiences as me growing up,” she says. “From there, it was a domino effect.”
Daphne remembers having Victoria’s friends from AAA at her house when she was still in high school. She noticed how much Victoria enjoyed it but was reluctant to participate in an organization with her sister.
“Coming into college, actually, [Victoria] was like ‘Oh, are you interested in joining AAA?’ ” Daphne says. “And I was like, ‘No, I’m not gonna join your club.’ ”
Daphne was eventually persuaded to give it a try and served as the AAA freshmen representative during her first year on campus — the same year Victoria was serving as president.
“I had been pretty involved in high school in terms of leadership positions, and I was like, ‘OK, why not get started getting involved on campus?’ ”
Daphne graduated in May 2018 with degrees in journalism (with a strategic communication emphasis) and political science. She was also honored as a member of Mizzou ’39.
After serving as freshman representative, she moved up to external vice president sophomore year. However, during that spring semester a vacancy opened at president, and Daphne stepped up for the role. Her older sister was always nearby.
“When Daphne was AAA president, I was still at Mizzou, so if she needed advice or help with something, we could chat about it in person,” Victoria says.
Daphne helped to organize Asian American Awareness month events that April. There were also a number of discussions held that semester about diversity and about discrimination occurring on campus.
“I took in a lot of what other people were saying and the discrimination they felt,” she says. “It really opened my eyes to beyond just the Asian American perspective on campus.”
In 2016, Alice, the youngest Yu sister, followed in Victoria and Daphne’s footsteps and joined AAA. She just completed her sophomore year at Mizzou, studying journalism and psychology.
Alice started her term as president during the fall 2017 semester. She works with an executive board of 14 members to program events and hold meetings for the general public and the AAA community. “I’m a mediator of sorts to make sure we’re seeing the big picture but also making sure the little details are happening.”
Alice stresses that, while AAA is focused on the Asian American community, membership is open to the public.
“We are culturally based, yes, but we are not culturally exclusive,” she says. “We’re just here to have a community where we can talk about heritage and culture and share and learn and explore.”
After watching her sisters serve as president before her, Alice knew she had big shoes to fill.
“I had pretty involved sisters that set the bar really high.”
She paved her own path in AAA and at MU but says it was nice to already have a community before she even stepped on campus — and to be able to go to her sisters for help.
“It’s nice to have that conversation and be like ‘Yo, I’m struggling. How did you deal with this?’ ” she says.
While AAA formed the core of their Mizzou experience, each of the Yu sisters were involved in a variety of ways on campus. Victoria served as the chief diversity officer on the executive cabinet of the Missouri Students Association during the 2014–15 academic year and was selected to attend the Asian American Advancing Justice Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. that winter. Daphne joined Alpha Phi Gamma — an umbrella organization under AAA — as a junior and got involved with the Multicultural Greek Council. Music continues to play a large part in Alice’s life as she practices for her minor in piano performance.
The sisters have learned from one another and have taken valuable lessons from their individual experiences with AAA. Daphne says the organization has had a lasting impact on how she views the world and her place in it.
“AAA taught me … to speak out against injustices, not just for myself but also for other people who maybe don’t look like me or didn’t live the experiences that I did,” she says.