Growing up in Richmond, Diana Trinh, '11, was always enveloped in her family's Chinese culture. So when she heard about the Asian Student Union in her first year at the University of Richmond, she signed on as the group's newsletter editor. Three years later, she's deeply involved in the internationalization of campus, serving as the president of the Asian Student Union and supporting international students from around the world.

Trinh, who is majoring in accounting with a minor in Chinese, studied abroad at Peking University during the summer after her freshman year. Though she grew up in a Chinese-American household, the difference between her culture and that of Peking was at times frustrating for her. "I speak Cantonese, not Mandarin, at home," she explains.

But those frustrations gave her insight into the experience of being an international student in the United States. The next year, she started working at the University's Office of International Education as an assistant to the director of international student services. Trinh helps alleviate anxiety surrounding immigration policies and offers personal support for incoming international students.

Some international students have joined Trinh and other domestic students in the Asian Student Union. The group brings together anyone with an interest in Asian cultures –– whether they are from an Asian country, of Asian heritage, or just intrigued by the culture, Trinh explains.

"ASU educates the UR community and its neighbors about Asian culture," she says. "We also serve as a support group for members."

That support role is a key part of the student experience at Richmond. With a diverse student body representing 46 states and 71 countries, having a group of people with shared experiences or interests can help students navigate college life.

As an ASU leader, Trinh looks to the University's Office of Multicultural Affairs for guidance. The office's associate director, Jean-Pierre Laurenceau-Medina, works closely with Trinh. He helped her and 10 other ASU members secure funding to attend the annual East Coast Asian American Student Union conference this March.

With workshops on leadership and common issues that Asian-American students face, the conference helped Trinh and the group define their goals for Richmond. "There are common stereotypes about Asian students, like that all we do is study or that we're all good at math," she says. She wants to have weekly discussions on such topics to define the problems and generate ideas on how to address them.

Trinh sees a common thread running through her work with the ASU, with international students, and in her accounting classes –– transcending differences to get people what they need. On campus, that means "helping people adapt to different environments," she says. "And business is all about making transactions with different people."