Ashley Shan

2021 – TEXAS (DALLAS REGION)

Ashley Shan is a junior at Greenhill School in Addison, Texas. Her project began with Ashley's own desire to see more Asian American representation in the classroom — learning about figures who looked like or had similar background as her — but it immediately grew to a larger hunger for something that expanded beyond just representation for herself and her community. Her identity was shaped by years of never, reading, seeing, hearing, or learning about those with similar backgrounds, and it was then when she wondered, "Why am I undeserving of seeing myself in my courses? Why does my history as an Asian American have to be invisible, not only in television and film, but also in textbooks and readings?" The answer to these questions was simply, "You are deserving of representation. You do not have to be invisible." Ashley took matters into her own hands, focusing on the disparities that she had experienced and spotted within her own educational experiences, and, in 2018, established Holding Hands, a nonprofit that aims to address the multifaceted issue of educational inequity, designing projects that serve disadvantaged students at several educational levels. To accomplish this goal, Ashley focused on support, representation, and resources — critical components of education that, all too often, are forgotten for the most marginalized. Through rallying students to design inclusive courses and curriculum, such as Asian American history, Civil Rights within America, LGBTQ+ history, and more, to be implemented in school districts around the nation, or setting up mentorship programs with college students for high schoolers that are planning on pursuing higher education, Holding Hands hopes to eliminate the racial inequities that continue to refuse certain individuals a voice. Outside of her involvement with Holding Hands, Ashley is also a leader on the Dallas Youth Commission, in which she designs summits, like the MLK Jr. Youth Summit, and programming, such as the Dallas Youth Magazine, to promote minority voices in Dallas.