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The 04-05 SAFE logo graces the year's t-shirt.

1100 Student Community Center (SCC)
Office Contact

Southeast Asians Furthering Education (SAFE) is part of the Student Recruitment and Retention Center.

SAFE aims to empower Southeast Asian students to actively pursue higher education, retain Southeast Asian students currently enrolled in institutions of higher learning and engage parents in the educational process. Retention services provided include: study halls, academic workshops, old test database, retreats, and socials.

A high school meeting to plan the week's visitations. Notice the piping of South Hall's underbelly. Outreach efforts will target Southeast Asian middle and high school students within the Sacramento area. The services provided include: college workshops, campus visits, conferences, parent workshops, and resources.

Through recruitment, retention, resource and referral services, SAFE will empower students to successfully enter into and graduate from institutions of higher education.

SAFE is located at the Student Community Center in the Student Recruitment and Retention Center

For more information, e-mail We are always looking for staff members. You can volunteer to help us out and even receive transcript notation through the ICC


SAFE is a student-run student initiated organization made entirely by student coordinators and a team of interns and volunteers (VIP). SAFE composes one seven of the Student Recruitment and Retention Center, which in itself is a department of the Student Community Center.

SAFE is loosely divided into two components: Resource, Retention, and Recruitment.


SAFErs on the Fall 2004 retreat.

  • Southeast Asian Leadership Retreat
    The upcoming retreat is scheduled for 04-06 November 2005. There have been two retreats in the past, so this upcoming one will be the third ever.


On Asian Pacific Culture Night 2005, SAFE takes a group of high school and middle school student to dinner at Tercero's Dining Commons and then treats them to the show. SAFE visits two high schools on a regular basis: Grant Union and Valley High School. SAFE is present at one middle school: Samuel Jackman Middle School.

(Note: We used to visit Luther Burbank High, Florin High, and Highlands High School, but since, the point of contact has been busy to support our activities and we no longer have the ability to maintain our presence.)

  • Weekly Visits During the 2004-2005 school year, SAFE made weekly visits every Friday to all schools with regular visits to Burbank in the Fall. At these visits, we stress the importance of higher education by presenting workshops on academic and cultural topics such as Lunar New Year, food, time management, FAFSA, college applications, and study habits. These visits are great for recruitment because they allow a one-on-one interaction between college students and high school and middle school students.
  • Field Trips SAFE occasionally gathers a group of students and takes them on a university visit. This year we went to San Jose State. We also took a group to Asian Pacific Culture Night.
  • Middle School/High School Conference In May 2005, SAFE held a conference on the UC Davis campus open to all the students we had outreached to through out the year. There was a guest speaker, workshops, a scavenger hunt, a talent show, and much more.

Communities Served

Our targeted communities trace their national origins to Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Although SAFE targets certain primary communities, we do not refuse anyone who seeks us out wishing to enlist our services. These primary communities are those ravaged by the Vietnam War, groups from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. These include Vietnamese, Lao, Cambodian, Chinese, Hmong, and Iu-Mienh. Why do these communities deserve special attention? Imagine yourself as a farmer in Davis. All your life you've been farming and all your skill sets relate to farming and animals. Out of nowhere, the old Southern Confederate states suddenly declare secession again! But this time is different, they have no defined boundaries, and war's leadership are Southern peasants who wish to overthrow the government. A war breaks out and drags on for a few, terrible decades. Although the secessionists don't crush the conventional military, they succeed in frustrating American morale and inflict crushing losses. In a gutsy move, the U.S. arms its rural citizens to fight a guerrilla war. Now, knowing nothing about war and tactics, you overcome overwhelming odds by rescuing thousands of regular troops and crush superior forces in your battles. However, looking at the reality of the situation, people are dying everywhere, and you see no real reason why all of this is happening. After nearly a generation of fighting, the Washington eventually falls apart under its own weight. As chaos rips the land, you decide that to escape the new regime (in some areas they've already "cleansed" so many people that the regular war looks pleasant), you have to escape the country. You grab your closest family and friends and prepare to flee. But before you do, you must evade vicious patrols that shoot on sight, the wilderness of the countryside, and the ubiquitous starvation. After the exodus, you join millions of other refugees in crammed sardine style ships in sailing to distant places you've never heard of. You're forced to assimilate into a radically different culture, learn a new language, find some means of support, and ultimately raise children. This is just a sample of what the first wave Southeast Asian refugees faced in the U.S.1 If such an occurrence were to happen stateside, we'd probably at least have the fortune of traveling an open countryside instead of navigating thick jungles and the deadly Mekong River. Better yet, many countries speak English and most have an educated population exposed to some American culture. Of course, I know the scenario sounds ridiculous, such as the notion that the American government can implode, and then the following regime openly torturing its citizens, but this is what happened in Southeast Asia.


Every SRRC component organizes its coordinators in a different manner, but every group has an administrative coordinator, a Retention and Recruitment Organizing Committee Representative (RROC) (the RROC also functions as a Student Director), and a number of different retention and recruitment coordinators. Some groups have specific duties for coordinators, such as ACE's and Yikal Kuyum's retreat coordinators.

SAFE's current staff positions consist of the Student Director/RROC Representative, two recruitment coordinators: the Middle School Outreach Coordinator and the High School Outreach Coordinator; and two retention coordinators: the Community Development and Advocacy Coordinator, and the Holistic Retention Coordinator. Although specific duties and areas are laid out, the coordinators function as a team and work collaboratively with each other and their interns to accomplish SAFE's goals.

2016-2017 Coordinators 

  • Xanh (Sunny) Tran - Student Director/RROC Rep
  • Christopher Pheneger - Administrative Coordinator
  • Mary Moua - High School Outreach
  • Shayla Phothisene - Middle School Outreach
  • Amanda Saetern - Community Development and Advocacy Coordinator
  • Julie Le - Holistic Retention Coordinator 

2015-2016 Coordinators 

  • Tiffany Giang - Student Director/RROC Rep
  • Jenny Muk - Administrative Coordinator
  • Kayla Lor - High School Outreach
  • Izabela (Izzie) Villanueva - Middle School Outreach
  • Xanh (Sunny) Tran - Community Development and Advocacy Coordinator
  • Lisa Lam - Holistic Retention Coordinator 

2014-2015 Coordinators

  • Yee Xiong - Student Director/RROC Rep
  • Pa Nhia Her - Administrative Coordinator
  • Sarn Saechao - High School Outreach
  • Kevin Vang - Middle School Outreach
  • Zenni Duong - Academic Retention
  • Linda Nguyen - Community Development

2013-2014 Coordinators

  • Vivian Bui - Student Director/RROC Rep
  • Mai Moua Vang - Administrative Coordinator
  • Samantha Her - High School Outreach
  • Lee Lo - Middle School Outreach
  • Gordon Lim - Academic Retention
  • Casey Nguyen - Community Development

2012-2013 Coordinators

  • Teresa Tran - Student Director/RROC Rep
  • Xuan Tran - Administrative Director
  • Boon Xou Khang - High School Outreach
  • Gordon Lim - Middle School Outreach
  • Tri-Thien Nguyen-Lam - Academic Retention
  • Kevin Vang - Community Development

2011-2012 Coordinators

  • Teresa Tran - Student Director/RROC Rep
  • Jamie Lam - Administrative Director
  • Anh Nguyen - High School Outreach
  • Boon Xou Khang - Middle School Outreach
  • Eve Vang - Academic Retention
  • Shirley Duong - Community Development

2010-2011 Coordinators

  • Poyee Vang - Student Director/RROC Rep
  • Rosa Lee - Administrative Director
  • Michael Nguyen- High School Outreach
  • Nancy Le - Middle School Outreach
  • Nhia Moua - Academic Retention
  • Mai Her - Community Development

2009-2010 Coordinators

  • Phung Kim Vo - Student Director/RROC Rep
  • Katherine Hammond - Administrative Director
  • Rhummanee Hang- High School Outreach
  • Mai Her - Middle School Outreach
  • Crystal Yah - Academic Retention
  • Danny Liemthongsamout - Community Development

2008-2009 Coordinators

  • Stephanie Tan - Student Director/RROC Rep
  • Paul Vang - Resource/Administrative
  • Amy Voong- High School Outreach
  • Kathy Her - Middle School Outreach
  • Daniel Dam - Academic Retention
  • Crystal Yah - Community Development

2007-2008 Coordinators

2006-2007 Coordinators

  • Azizah Ahmad - RROC Rep/Student Director
  • Maiyee Xiong - Administration
  • Anne Nugyen and Jenny Hoang- High School Outreach
  • Maisee Lor - Middle School Outreach

2005-2006 Coordinators04 June 2005 staff retreat, with coordinators present and future. Left to right: Ritchie Lee, Seng Moua, Diane Yang, Padee Vue, Yer Her, Mandeep Dhaliwal, Julie Nguyen, and Lucy Moua.

  • Diane Yang - RROC Rep/Student Director
  • Yer Her - Administration
  • Lucy Moua and Cathy Tran - High School Outreach
  • Ritchie Lee and Darny Sy - Retention

2004-2005 Coordinators

  • Lang Fang - RROC Rep/Student Director
  • Seng Moua - Administration
  • Julie Nguyen and Padee Vue - High School Outreach
  • MandeepDhaliwal - Middle School Outreach
  • Boravy Nhim, Jenny Yang, and Soua Vang - Retention

2003-2004 Coordinators23

  • Rican Vue - RROC Rep/Student Director
  • Kari Vang - Administration
  • Chio Saephanh - Academic Outreach
  • Thuy-My Ong - Middle School Outreach
  • Phuc Nguyen - Academic Retention
  • Barry Thao - Peer Mentorship
  • Xuan Vo - Enrichment/Mentorship
  • Thuc Nguyen - Transfer Student

2002-2003 Coordinators

2001-2002 Coordinators 4

  • Xong Vang - RROC Rep/Student Director
  • Doua Thor - Academic Outreach
  • Jimmy Xiong - Academic Retention
  • Kevin Du - Enrichment/Mentorship
  • Jason Lew - Transfer Student

2000-2001 Coordinators5

  • Nancy Vue - RROC Rep
  • Monique Chhun
  • Sarah Nguyen
  • Vicky Vang

1999-2000 Coordinators6

  • Phoua Moua - Resource
  • Ia Moua and Kao Vang - Recruitment
  • Ka Vang and Kao Vang - Retention

Staff, Interns, and Volunteers

2000-2001 KEY STAFF7

  • Kao Vang
  • Kao Vang
  • Maiko Xiong
  • Jimmy Xiong
  • Nancy Vue


Founded in 1999 by Kao Vang and the other RROC Reps: Laura Akers, Isis Castro, Jehan Clark, Christina Escobar, Yvonne Marsh, Javier A. Tarango, and Michelle Villaluz. Kao Vang was SAFE's RROC Rep. Prior to the SRRC, no component of the SRRC had functioned individually except for Bridge

Seal of the Hmong Student Union. Anonymous drawing. An original, slightly modified, hovers over the SAFE desk in 16 South Hall. Much of the SRRC's culture and administrative structure finds roots in UCLA's Student Retention Center. The UCLA SRC makes use of "mother organizations," established student groups that provide support for the fledgling campus department. Many people both oppose and uphold this model of structural support. SAFE is supported by the Hmong Student Union, currently one of the largest and strongest Asian Pacific Islander student UCD clubs. Kao Vang was a member of HSU, and with her initial support, SAFE became predominantly staffed with HSU members. Although that trend continues today, SAFE is beginning to reflect more of the Southeast Asian community. Our goals has always been to further the educational needs of all Southeast Asians.

To the outsider, SAFE's most visible reflection of change can be seen in the coordinator titles that we hold. In the past there have been rigid titles that attempted to clearly define a person's role in managing strategic goals. It's not clear how strongly past coordinators adhered to those titles, but titles are beginning to matter less and less in the SRRC. We commonly refer to each other as being "resource, retention, or recruitment" instead of our formal titles. You can also notice how different areas fade and fold into others, especially the "transfer student" and "peer mentorship" positions. Recently, SAFE has decided that these are auxilary to the programs of other campus organizations. For example, clubs on campus have better and stronger peer mentorship programs than SAFE, owing strongly to the fact that those clubs are easier to identify with than SAFE. Since there are so few Southeast Asian transfers on campus, SAFE has decided to scrap a formal component and serve that population on a case-by-case basis.

Diane Yang is currently the youngest RROC member, in terms of both age (DOB 07 November 1986) and school year (sophomore). Correct me if I'm wrong, but she's also the youngest RROC ever to sit on the committee.


1. This scenario is made of bits and pieces of the refugee experience. For example, not everyone fought in the war, but a large majority of the lower classes did. The "cleansing" occurred in all three nations, but was most pronounced in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge, where in the span of a few short years, one third of the population had been killed.
2. All coordinator listings before 04-05 are sketchy. I've pieced them together from bits of old documents and my own memory.
3. Source: Old business card files in the SRRC server. Positions and names may not be accurate.
4. Source: Old files from the selection board located in the SRRC server.
5. Source: Nancy Vue's "SAFE JOB DESCRIPTION" email contained in her 2000-2001 RROC Rep folder.
6. Source: an old SAFE 2000 pamphlet contained in Nancy Vue's 2000-2001 RROC Rep folder.
7. Source: Nancy Vue's "SAFE JOB DESCRIPTION" email contained in her 2000-2001 RROC Rep folder.