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Intern Spotlight: Sam Solemnidad

Sam Solemnidad (she/her) is a second-generation Filipino-American and also a rising third year at UCLA where she’s double majoring in Political Science and Asian American Studies. At UCLA, she is an active member on campus in leadership for organizations like Samahang Pilipino (UCLA’s Pilipino cultural organization), Southeast Asian Students for Organizing (SEASON) Conference, and student government. Sam is an intern at APIAVote through US-Asia Institute’s IMPACT Program for Filipino-Americans, which provides a firsthand look at government and political systems in Washington D.C., to prepare the next generation of Fil-Am leaders.

Read on for Samantha’s interview! If you or someone you know would like to intern with us in the Fall, click here.

Q: What made you want to work with APIAVote?
Even though I got my placement through US-Asia Institute, I knew I wanted to be an intern at APIAVote as soon as I heard about its mission. Back at school in LA, most of the work I’ve done has had to do with the Census and civic engagement for the Filipino-American community. So, to able to work for an organization that does that on a national level was an absolute dream for me.
-Have you learned anything interesting during your time here?
I think the most important thing I’ve learned from this internship is the importance of community. As I mentioned, a lot of my previous work has been at a local level, so making the transition to working on a national level was extremely interesting for me. One of my favorite things in this internship was getting to know all about the community partners APIAVote has and getting to understand the role each partner played in their home state. Seeing how each state had its own important and very different needs and how APIAVote helped these states with their individual needs really showed me just how big our AAPI community is and how important it is that we work together on issues like civic engagement.

Q: Name one memorable experience you had with us!
The most memorable moment for me was during APIAVote’s National Leadership Summit. As interns, we were tasked with helping run the zoom meetings where our speakers for the Summit would be presenting. In one of the calls, many members of CAPAC were present and shared advice to the community. Never before had I been in a call where AAPI representatives spoke so openly about AAPI issues and it was an amazing thing to see. It affirmed to me the importance of having members of our community represented in government and the necessity of having our voices heard.

Q: Why is it important to amplify AAPI voices? 
Asian Americans and Pacific Islander’s place in history is just as important as any other, yet our voices are rarely heard, especially in government and politics. Because of our unique community conditions, our communities are almost never spoken about or addressed because of the Model Minority Myth and also the idea that AAPIs aren’t as “American.” Yet we are one of the largest populations in our country and we grow every day. With the world as it is now and especially with how COVID has revealed the many racial inequities present in our nation, AAPIs and other marginalized groups deserve to be heard.

Q: What do you do in your spare time? 
Pre-COVID my favorite pass times were grabbing boba and Korean Barbeque with my friends in Los Angele’s Koreatown. Now, post-COVID I mainly spend my spare time watching Korean dramas with my mom and also playing Animal Crossing!