Mr. Phan Goes to D.C.

As a commuter for all four years at UC Irvine, I found it easy to attend class and go straight home afterwards. Couple that with majoring in biological sciences and you have the quintessential UCI student who spent more time studying for exams and writing papers in his room rather than soaking up all of the opportunities that are held generally on campus. I started covering events and writing articles for the New University my first year as one of the ways to force myself to get involved at UCI. Also, it did not hurt that writing an article for your school newspaper was one of the items on UCI’s bucket list of things to do before you graduate.

I became interested in applying for the Opinion editor position after joining the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) my third year. One of the branches of CGI is former President Bill Clinton’s goal to round up undergraduate and graduate students around the world who are working to solve pressing issues in the areas of education, energy and climate change, poverty alleviation, peace and human rights, and public health so they can collaborate and expand their projects. Working with CGI members and sharing our projects with one another was life-transforming. It gave me perspective on the injustices of global poverty, sex trafficking, unequal opportunity for higher education, etc.

My project that President Clinton took an interest in required me to interact with the Orange County homeless each week, and the experience made the issue of homelessness become very real for me. I wanted to make a difference in some way. Although I have the tendency to remain objective in my writing, how could I not stand with the homeless who were suddenly evicted from their homes or couldn’t be hired because of having a certain disability?

One of the things that I wanted to bring to the table as Opinion editor this year was to present stories and topics to readers that require unequivocal and direct responses. Rather than our tendency to live in the gray, the primary goal of the Opinion section was to get our readers to take sides on topics like gay marriage, the Occupy movement, the health care debate, whether or not President Obama’s first term has been successful, etc. along with being exposed to stories and topics that they may pay less attention to.

I wanted to mention that the best part of being the Opinion editor is having the opportunity to read all of the stories and op-eds that were submitted by my fellow Anteaters.  I’d like to thank everyone who has written for Opinion this year especially the staff writers (you know who you are). I’d also like to give a shout out to Bo Lundqvist, Alex Holtz and Carolyn Ngo, the three comic artists who pretty much collectively make the Antics section.

I’d like to thank Gregory Yee, the editor-in-chief, and Amanda Robbins, the managing editor for selecting me to be your Opinion editor. I would also like thank my associate Opinion editor, Natasha Aftandilians, for being there by my side each week. I couldn’t ask for someone better to work with and your ridiculous and awesome humor is just icing on the cake.  My thank you tour ends with the rest of the 2011-2012 Editorial Board and interns (Soraya Azzawi, Jessica Pratt, Vinh Nguyen, Charles Lam, Annie Kim, Jun Im, Michael Chin, Ian Massey, Young Kim, Zach Risinger, Justine Testado, James Kim, Anna Nguyen, Priya Gohil, Joyce Chen, Logan Payne, and Natasha Sekhon) for making every Wednesday and Sunday such an amazing experience. You all hold a special place in my heart and I will never forget working with all of you.