Seo yoon Yang, nicknamed “Yoonie,” is part of the Students Demand Action Chattanooga chapter in East Tennessee, where she is a senior at Signal Mountain Middle/High School. Living an hour away from Parkland, Florida two years ago, Yoonie joined the gun violence prevention movement after experiencing firsthand how a tragedy affected a community. Along with her passion for youth activism, Yoonie enjoys competing in Model United Nations and Mock Trial, performing in her school theater productions, and directing short films.
Get to know Yoonie even more in her Q&A!
Name: Seo yoon Yang
Astrological Sign: Virgo
Location: Chattanooga, TN
School: Signal Mountain Middle/High School
What do you hope to pursue after you graduate?
After I graduate high school, I’d love to study either international relations or global studies in college. I am hoping to become either a foreign diplomat and work in the United Nations or study international law and work in courts on an international scale. I want to be able to tackle immigration, migration, and violence across different regions of the world. My dream career in a perfect world is, however, to be a justice for the International Court of Justice.
Why is gun violence prevention important to you?
Gun violence prevention is important to me because I’ve seen firsthand how a shooting impacts a community. Growing up in South Florida, I’ve seen the impact of a school shooting on my peers on an individual and intimate level to the impact on a state and nation, coming together in solidarity. That impetus got me into the gun violence prevention movement, but learning more about the multifaceted nature of gun violence from domestic violence to suicide to homicide, I’ve realized how widespread this issue is, even disproportionately impacting Black and brown communities and low socioeconomic communities. Living in Chattanooga, I’ve seen city gun violence affect my close friend as well. Truly, I think the goal of gun violence prevention is simple: save lives. And honestly that is a goal that I hope everyone in this country would work towards.
What are you most proud of working on as a Students Demand Action volunteer?
Where do I even begin? Personally, just seeing Students Demand Action step up in the last few months has been inspirational to me. As students in particular, we’ve been experiencing a lot of disappointment lately. College is being put online, senior activities canceled, extracurriculars postponed. Yet, we continuously persevere. We’ve created Virtual Field Offices in each state and DC. We’ve registered 100,000 voters. We’re going to win the senate races in Georgia. All in the midst of a pandemic. Students Demand Action is truly a force to be reckoned with and I could not be more honored to be part of this organization.
What public figure or social justice icon do you most admire?
I guess this is a pretty popular example, but I’ve really been admiring Michelle Obama. Listening to her podcast and seeing how she navigated the controversial presidential election, I saw her continuously choose kindness and dignity. For example, one of her Instagram posts talked about how when she was leaving the White House, she made sure to make preparations for the Trump family regardless of how she felt about them. She told Melania everything she had learned because it was the right thing to do. I really admire her strong morals and sense of right, and I hope that I would act like Michelle Obama if I was put in a similar situation.
If you could only eat one food for a year, what would you pick?
This would be absolutely awful for my health and my stomach would hate me, but it’s my comfort food so….Flaming Hot Cheetos 🙂
What do you do for self care?
I make sure to prioritize time with my family each day. Personally, I’ve been struggling balancing the chaos of the pandemic with school work and college applications, so I prioritize talking with my loved ones and give myself time to reflect upon each day.
What motivates you to keep going?
Honestly, I choose to believe that this world is just, and that good things come to good people who work hard. That sentiment keeps me motivated, encourages me to live each day being grateful, and helps me continuously strive to make tomorrow better. I know that if I keep fighting for things that I believe in, I’ll make at least a small dent in this world. And if that changes or improves the lives of even just a couple of people, that’s enough for me.