Senior Tia Moua Wins Governor’s Civic Leadership Award

Zag Grads 2023

May 05, 2023
Gonzaga University News Service

Tia Moua, a senior from Spokane, is one of three students statewide selected as recipients of the 2023 Governor’s Civic Leadership Award for her service and social justice activities.

Moua was recognized with a $1,000 award at the Washington Campus Coalition for the Public Good Student Civic Leadership Awards ceremony April 21st at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. The honors recognize the top student civic leaders at the Washington Campus Coalition’s member institutions who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and commitment to addressing critical campus or community issues.

“We are so proud of the contributions Tia has made to Gonzaga University,” said Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh. “I consider her an example of the amazing impact one person can have on so many facets of a community. We look forward to the many ways that she will continue to serve the communities and organizations of which she is a part, even as she works to promote a more just and equitable world.”

Moua, who graduates this spring with baccalaureate degrees in Communication Studies and Sociology, and a minor in Solidarity and Social Justice, was honored for her activism and social entrepreneurship.

“What motivates me to get involved is feeling the sense of belonging and connection with others, and by being able to build a stronger community,” she said. “It gives me a sense of purpose. I enjoy just seeing people achieve their goals.”

As the College Equity Ambassador for the Asian Pacific Islander Community (APIC) Spokane, Moua organized and led a Census Outreach event with 150+ attendees by engaging multiple organizations. She also interviewed over a dozen local Asian residents and assisted with the 2020 Census by helping develop four Washington state voting information videos translated in several Asian languages. Moua collaborated with 10 artists to create COVID-19 vaccine education information and engaged in outreach for five COVID-19 vaccine clinics, helping 700+ individuals in Spokane get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Moua has served in a number of programs to mentor youth in the community, including the Walking School Bus at Logan Elementary and the Boys and Girls Club. During her time at Gonzaga, she worked with faculty, staff and administrators to help create a more diverse, inclusive and equitable campus community. She did this by advocating for increased education on Asian American history and contributions; advocating for hiring more tenure-track faculty of color; organizing a Presidential Speaker Series discussion with Asian American and LGBTQ+ activist Helen Zia; advancing the movement to commemorate Filipino-American and labor rights organizer Philip Vera Cruz on campus; and increasing support for Asian language programs.

“I’ve learned a lot from my time at Gonzaga, from good mentors, and it really inspires me to keep doing advocacy work and getting involved to help other people develop a sense of belonging,” she said, “because they helped me to feel connected to something that’s bigger than myself.”

“The labor of love from past students on campus, or past faculty and staff, or past advocates in the community – they had so much love to give for future generations so that you’re able to be where you are…and that’s really, really cool!”

The murders of six Asian women at spas in Atlanta in 2021 called her to activism, and she helped lead a campus vigil and a march in downtown Spokane in response to the hateful act.

As a Morris Fellowship Summer Research Fellow, Moua conducted research on the rise in anti-Asian hate and racism during COVID-19 due to scapegoating and its impact on the mental, physical and social health of Asian Americans in Spokane. She gathered recommendations for combating anti-Asian hate and creating a more inclusive community; she presented her research at GU’s Undergraduate Research Showcase.

Moua lived in GU’s Logan House for a year and a half, committed to strengthening relationships between Gonzaga University and the Logan neighborhood. During this time, she demonstrated an exemplary commitment to understanding the complexities of university and neighborhood relations, taking the lead on finding volunteer opportunities for the house, such as supporting a winter celebration on campus called “Winter Wonderland,” purchasing toys and assisting parents as they “shopped” for gifts for their children at the Winter Wonderland “gift shop.” She also participated in numerous reflection nights offering vital feedback on crucial social justice issues in Spokane.

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This story originally appeared in Gonzaga Magazine as part of a feature on community engagement titled "We Belong to Each Other." Check out more stories from this piece.
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