October 22, 2020

Michael Messina is a rising Senior at Binghamton University double majoring in Political Science and Physics. An Asian American transracial adoptee, Michael arrived at college and immersed himself in the Asian American community he knew so little about. Throughout his collegiate career, Michael has served as Asian Student Union President, Asian Outlook Media President / Editor in Chief, and Society of Asian Scientists & Engineers Advisor. He has also served on various student activist coalitions and was the 2019 ECAASU Trailblazer Award recipient. Today, Michael is working through the University to write a screenplay for an Asian American Social Horror Film.

Read on for Michael's interview! If you or someone you know would like to intern with us, click here.

Q: What made you want to work with APIAVote?

I was looking for an organization that would uplift the APIA community, especially with regard to the upcoming election. Since 2017 I’ve been working with APIAVote through my university’s Asian Student Union, so I was already acquainted with the high quality of work done by the organization, not to mention the friends and mentors who have had fantastic experiences with APIAVote. Ultimately, I’m hoping to gain a breadth of experiences to understand the advocacy space and craft informed career goals that make sense for me. My time with APIAVote has proven invaluable in that regard.

Q: Have you learned anything interesting during your time here?

Sitting in on meetings with organizers from across the nation has shown me how diverse APIA communities are and, therefore, how solutions can vary greatly between communities. Witnessing a myriad of organizations, both local and national, fighting for various causes has inspired me to learn more about everything from Pacific Islander representation to API documentary filmmakers and more. One positive take away from the ongoing tragedy that is the COVID-19 pandemic is the wealth of wisdom and workshops being shared online, an opportunity I’ll be sure to take advantage of.

Q: Name one memorable experience you had with us

Seeing the High School Mentorship Program evolve from an idea to a developing project to an implemented program has been incredibly rewarding. As a student involved with APIAVote’s Collegiate Ambassador program since 2017, I’ve worked with Programs Coordinator Julie Wu in limited capacities a few times before. Being able to dig into an original initiative alongside Julie and the intern team has been incredible, especially considering the goal of providing High School students the opportunities and learning spaces I wish I had back home. 

Q: Why is it important to amplify AAPI voices? 

AAPI voices aren’t heard, despite having contributed so much to the building of this nation. To amplify AAPI voices is to give the empowerment this diverse community deserves. Today, we see the AAPI community working to shatter the model minority narrative, an effort that will lead to solidarity between minority communities and uplift all. As the AAPI population and vote continues to grow, it becomes increasingly evident that the AAPI voice is too powerful to ignore.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

When not working, I’m often training martial arts, working on screenplays, or listening to weird hip hop. I also host a few API podcasts: ‘Inside Outlook’ where I interview APIs about their life experiences, ‘AO Story Time’ where I help craft audio narratives exploring API themes, and ‘Action Filmmaking Decoded’ where I work within an API team to explore the film industry.