Lilliana Yuelei Hime, a sophomore English Writing major at St. Edward's University, is a student leader passionate about addressing social justice through individual empowerment and artistic expression. Under the belief that artistic expression has the power to bring communities together, she volunteered her experience as a Chinese adoptee in the oral storytelling archive, Our China Stories; helps organize and host poetry slams on campus; as well as creates community artwork. She also works as a Youth Advocate for Out Youth in Central Texas to provide holistic, developmental programs and services for LGBTQ youth. In understanding how her passion for the community helped her realize greater success in making a positive difference, Ms. Hime co-founded AmericaIWill, an individual empowerment organization, to help students find the social cause they are passionate about and want to make a difference in. Along with service and open dialogue, the organization uses social media to educate and empower students using the #AmericaIWill as a way to engage others on and off campus. Ms. Hime hopes to inspire her peers to become the next generation of civic leaders in support of positive change, realizing that making a difference starts with one person at a time.
Growing up, I always took part in what was considered an acceptable amount of volunteer opportunities, yet these were always short lived service commitments. For some reason, I never stuck with them. It wasn't until I began work with Out Youth that I discovered a cause I could truly devote myself to. As a member of the LGBTQ community, I found their mission of creating a safe place for LGBTQ youth deeply personal. I help young people understand and come to terms with their sexual and gender identities in ways that would have benefited me growing up. I discovered my full potential to make a difference when I have passion for a cause. This realization created a new perspective about service for me. I believe that people are most effective when they are passionate about a cause, and true passion only comes from a strong understanding and proximity to those affected. Service starts from the inside out, beginning with the understanding of a cause and empathy for its people, then radiating outward into action. I co-founded AmericaIWill to help students find the cause that resonates for them so that they too can make a difference in their world.