Yvonne Shen


Yvonne Shen is a junior at Boise High School in Boise, Idaho. In Idaho, racial diversity is limited, with Asian Americans and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders comprising only about 1.53% of the population. During middle school, amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, she was labeled a "virus spreader" due to her race. She wasn't alone; many of her East Asian peers faced similar discrimination. Many of her non-Asian friends began to grow more curious about her culture. Despite their innocent intent, the questions sometimes bordered on microaggressions, highlighting the unconscious biases stemming from the lack of diversity. The 2021 Atlanta shooting served as a turning point for Yvonne, intensifying her commitment to educating others about Asian cultures and amplifying AAPI youth voices. This led her to co-found the Idaho Asian American Pacific Islander Youth Alliance (IAAPIYA), a student-led organization dedicated to promoting AAPI cultures and fostering community across Idaho. Yvonne has become a strong advocate for promoting racial understanding by organizing vigils and protests, giving speeches and interviews and celebrating various cultural events such as AAPI Heritage Month and the Lunar New Year. Through collaborating with local organizations and participating in community engagement events, IAAPIYA has impacted thousands through social media, with more than 1,800 followers on Instagram. Beyond her work with IAAPIYA, Yvonne has been actively involved with the Idaho Women's March, serving as a speaker twice to advocate for the intersectionality between race and gender relations.