During her years at UCI, undergraduate Diana Jou has examined issues of race, gender and class while pursuing degrees in studio art and Asian American studies, and while editing the alternative magazine she started called Jaded. While she’s learned to look at the world with a critical eye, Jou herself isn’t jaded.
It’s not cynicism but idealism – and a desire to improve others’ lives – that’s behind everything she does.
“Everything I do is interconnected,” she says. “It’s helped me process information and ask certain questions.”
Because of her commitment to human rights and minority issues, Jou was one of 57 college students nationwide selected to the Humanity in Action summer fellowship program. After graduating in June, she will spend five weeks studying rights issues in New York, then spend three months in Berlin as an intern at a nonprofit that works with African migrants on HIV prevention and education.
“When I heard about Humanity in Action I thought, ‘This program is made for me,’” Jou says. “A lot of my education and interests lie in working with minorities, and understanding minority politics.”
Those interests led her to start Jaded, the edgy biquarterly publication geared to the Asian Pacific Islander community, her sophomore year. The magazine’s last issue comes out May 24. It’s folding because she and many of the staffers are graduating, and their successors want to start new publications.
“Jaded is an ironic title. People think, ‘Oh, college students are so jaded.’ We’re trying to show them we care,” she says. Past issues have featured articles on the exploitation of low-wage workers in Orange County, and the economic and ecological costs of out-of-control consumerism.
Jou, who has focused primarily on photography for her art degree, also is challenging stereotypes through a project she presented at the recent Undergraduate Research Symposium. She worked with six Muslim women students on photography books about “issues that touch their lives.”
Her commitment to minority rights “comes from a lot of different places.”
“It’s partly a personal awareness of my identity and how it relates to my surroundings,” says Jou, who was co-chair of the Asian Pacific Student Association last year and currently works at the Cross-Cultural Center.
After the HIA program, she will probably return to the U.S. to attend graduate school – but she hasn’t decided on a career.
“I’ll follow my interests, and do what I can to help people,” she says.