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Brienna Rafferty '23

Brienna Rafferty, president of the UNCW Asian Student Association
Brienna Rafferty, president of the UNCW Asian Student Association
Advocating for an Asian Heritage Culture Center on UNCW’s campus was a challenge for Brienna Rafferty '23 and other members of the Asian Student Association's executive board. The students didn’t know where to start and didn’t have someone to guide them.  

Rafferty, who has served as the association's president since 2021, solicited the help of the Student Government Association and other student leaders across campus. She later started a petition to establish an Asian cultural center on campus and received more than 500 signatures of support from students and faculty. With the help of Dr. Donyell Roseboro, the university's chief diversity officer, the association was able to secure space for the center, which opened in August 2022 in the Fisher University Union.

"Our goal has always been a safe space for Asian students and allies on campus. I am so proud that we have finally achieved it," said Rafferty. "Throughout the year, we will host various programs and events for students to learn about and experience Asian culture. We want the center to be a welcoming environment where students can come to study, make friends and be themselves."

Rafferty enjoys her role as an advocate and student leader. Through her work, she can serve as a voice for students, she said.

"Coming to UNCW my freshman year, I was reserved and didn't expect to make as many connections with students and peers in the community as I have," "said Rafferty. "I've grown into someone I can be proud of and trust, knowing I served as a role model for my peers."

Besides the Asian Student Association, Rafferty is active in the Mathematics and Statistics Club and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Rafferty encourages her fellow Seahawks to set high expectations or goals for themselves.

"Don't be afraid to go out to accomplish the things you want to do even if others try to deter you or tell you otherwise," she said.