Passion for diversity drives student leader Vanessa Teck

Vanessa Teck

Junior Vanessa Teck is a "mentor, leader, artist and amazing scholar,” says Tracey Adams-Peters, director of DU’s Center for Multicultural Excellence. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

A lot of students make the journey to college to “find themselves.” Some, like Vanessa Teck, know their path long before.

“I think just being Asian-American, being considered a minority, really made me passionate about diversity,” the DU junior says. “I wouldn’t want what my parents suffered through to happen again.”

Refugees from Cambodia, her parents faced numerous hardships. Ever since Vanessa learned of their struggles she’s been a champion for social justice and inclusivity.

So much so, in fact, that the 20-year-old intercultural communications and digital media studies major came to DU on a Martin Luther King Scholarship, which promotes inclusive excellence.

“I realized I wanted that to be a part of my life,” she says. “I saw how much change needed to be done.”

Not one to sit idly by, she got to work immediately. She was accepted to the Pioneer Leadership Program and became a resident assistant. She serves on student government and is part of the Excelling Leaders Institute.

She’s also a member of the Asian Student Alliance, is part of Joint Council — which brings together groups that promote diversity on campus — and was involved in DU’s 10th annual Diversity Summit in May. Oh, and she’s a freelance graphic designer on the side.

“Vanessa is a mentor, leader, artist and amazing scholar,” says Tracey Adams-Peters, director of DU’s Center for Multicultural Excellence. “I am so excited to have been able to know Vanessa though the tireless work she does to advance inclusive excellence at DU and in the community as a whole.”

Some of that tireless work includes flags that were planted around campus featuring different facts from around the world, helping develop a curriculum about breaking social barriers at Thomas Jefferson High School, and working as the marketing lead for the Diversity Summit, which drew 650 people.

“DU really pushes for inclusive excellence,” says Teck, who won an Outstanding Second Year Student award at the Office of Campus Activities’ Pioneer Awards ceremony in May. “All of the students are willing to learn and be a part of it.”

This fall she’ll be taking her talents international as a study-abroad student in Cambodia and Vietnam.

“A lot of people tell me to take a break,” she says, laughing. “When I go to club meetings that is my break; it doesn’t feel like work at all.”



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