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January 2019: Nicole Wong, Administrator

Nicole Wong, Director of the Support, Advocacy, & Violence Prevention Office

This month I met with Nicole Wong, VC ‘15, Director of the Support, Advocacy, & Violence Prevention Office at Vassar. I asked her what Vassar was like for her as a student, and why she chose to come back. Nicole said that “My experience at Vassar was so positive because it pushed me to become a better version of myself. Vassar was a space where I could learn and connect my personal, professional, and academic passions.”

In January 2014, Nicole took a fieldwork placement at the Poughkeepsie Family Services Center for Victim Safety and Support, and by the beginning of her senior year at Vassar, she became a full-time employee. She says this experience “solidified so much of why I wanted to do this work, and what I was doing it for.” She is grateful for “the community, which is so committed to ending gender-based violence at the large level and at the individual level. I met the strongest and most resilient people in my clients.” 

Nicole emphasizes the need for social solidarity. She asks, “how do you heal from trauma and facilitate social bonds? How do you create that for yourself, or do you create it with others?” Her goal is “for [students] to feel supported institutionally and outside of this office too.” As the director of SAVP, her favorite part is “working with survivors and students. Our students push us to be better. We need to know what best practices are, and the needs of our community at all times.”

From Asian-American administrator to another, I asked Nicole what it means to her to be a woman of color (WOC) in this work. She said that she’s constantly grappling with “the way I will be heard in a space as a young professional, a young WOC, an Asian-American in a space… What do we have to prove? How do we prove ourselves? Our knowledge? Our expertise? How do I make sure the office is heard? It’s not just me, it’s the movement, and it’s about making sure survivors are supported. Sometimes it’s really hard. Ultimately, Vassar’s a space where people are listening and doing the work, especially with EPI, to grow together and on their own.”

Finally, I asked Nicole what’s something she wished people knew about her work. Her response: “There are resources. Safety is possible. Healing is possible. Healing is different for everyone, and it’s not linear. We believe survivors. We take an intersectional approach. My primary focus in this office is to make sure people have the tools and ability to continue being successful. Trauma does not stop someone from being successful, sometimes it’s a wave that knocks you off your feet. If I can provide a raft, or a paddle to let someone float for a bit, that's great. I would love to facilitate that healing, and for survivors to ultimately feel empowered by their experience.”