Reed Welcomes New SEEDS Director

Courtesy of The Panther Newspaper

In September 2021, Shishei Tsang assumed the role of Director of the SEEDS (Students for Education, Equity, and Direct Service) program at Reed. Tsang brings years of experience and a passion for service to the role and works to engage students’ passions for their community.

Tsang grew up in Hong Kong, eventually immigrating to the U.S. when she was twelve years old. From here, she spent her high school and undergraduate years in southern California. She received her bachelor’s degree from California State University-Fullerton, going on to earn her master’s at Lewis and Clark College. She is no stranger to Reed, as during her time as a graduate student Tsang served as Program Assistant for the Multicultural Resource Center as a practicum student. 

Tsang found herself in this line of work as early as her undergraduate years when she served as an orientation leader and a tour guide. After discovering the career path of student affairs, she began her working life in southern California. Prior to coming to Reed, Tsang was the Program Coordinator for the Cross-Cultural Center at Chapman University. When she came across the SEEDS position, Tsang felt inclined to apply. She says, “I knew that I wanted to do work that has to do with DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] but also supporting students, so when the SEEDS position opened up, I thought it was a good fit. I feel like I can really be hands-on about working to support students, and I know students are passionate about social justice.”

As she enters her role, Tsang looks back to look forward. She begins her job by working on the resumption of face-to-face programs that were suspended in the face of COVID. She says “the student coordinators that work in this program have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep things going, and now that we’re back together there seems to be more opportunities to do things in person. I’m kind of just picking up on that, helping students do whatever they planned and helping them explore.” She emphasizes student autonomy as she explains, highlighting that SEEDS gives students the avenues to engage with their community in ways that are individually meaningful to them. She also invites students who have ideas for engagement to speak with her. “Come in and tell us about it. I like collaboration. I like listening to what students want to do,” she says.

Tsang also emphasizes the importance of working with the community, as many conversations surrounding social justice have surfaced in recent months, and these continue to be relevant issues that students are passionate about alleviating. She states, “I think the campus climate is a little different now, given that, as a country, we went through so many changes, so many movements, especially the city of Portland. I feel like now people are more aware of the issues that the city and the country face in terms of social justice and diversity and inclusion.” She also speaks about how, because COVID sent most students home over the last year, many members of the community have been involved with these movements in their own spaces; as Reed returns to fully in-person programming Tsang hopes to bring these voices together.

Above all else, Tsang stresses the openness of SEEDS, reminding students that there are many ways to participate in and support the community. She highlights the Federal Work-Study and Community Engagement programs that allow students to receive credit or compensation for their work within the community. She also mentions on-campus programs, such as the Community Pantry, where students can volunteer to help support their fellow students’ needs, as well as the Collective Voices Series, where speakers from the community talk about their roles and how they organize for their causes. She says, “[I hope to] find those students who are passionate and regather them in this space so we can carry out the work more intentionally and effectively.”

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