Three Chinese American cousins break leadership stereotypes

By Charles Lam
Northwest Asian Weekly

From left: Cousins Connor Chiu, Riley Hsia, and Tyler Yen (Photo from the Chiu family)

Asian and Pacific Americans are stereotyped as being weak leaders, but three Seattle-area teenagers are breaking that misconception. The three cousins, Connor Chiu, 18 and a recent graduate from International School in Bellevue; Tyler Yen, 17 and a senior at Redmond High School; and Riley Hsia, 17 and a senior at Newport High School, are strong leaders, each serving as president of their school’s associated student bodies.

“Leadership class has given me a whole new perspective about what really goes on at Redmond High School,” said Yen, who has been involved with student leadership for two years — the shortest of the three.

Much like how close the cousins are, their motivations for taking on leadership roles overlap. Yen and Hsia are following in the footsteps of leaders who inspired them.

“I enjoyed my first year of leadership when I had the opportunity to form close relationships when working with the administration, staff, and my fellow peers,” Yen said. “Seeing how involved and how much fun past ASB presidents of Redmond High School had was what inspired me to run.”

Hsia, who was also inspired by a former leader, found the leadership role was in line with the values taught to him as a Boy Scout.

“I’ve wanted to be ASB president at my school since my freshman year, since our previous ASB president was a great role model for how I wanted to help the school in the future,” said Hsia. “Being an Eagle Scout also really fed my desire to continue with leadership throughout high school.”

Chiu, who is older than his cousins, originally wanted to give back to his school.

“I wanted to make a difference in my community and thought that my creativity and work skills could have a positive influence on my school,” Chiu said.

Yen and Hsia are heading into their leadership positions intent on being good examples for other students and helping others reach their potential.

“Inside of the classroom I hope to empower others to become stronger leaders,” said Yen. “By highlighting their strengths, I want them to have their chance at the spotlight, for example, speaking in front of the school or organizing a major event.” He continued, “As for outside, I hope to represent Redmond in a way where people from the school and community can comfortably approach me with ideas or suggestions. Redmond recently changed from a three-year to a four-year high school. It is a perfect time to help implement new ideas while also maintaining longtime traditions.”

Though Hsia echoed the same sentiment, he is also focused on honoring the school’s past.

“As president of Newport, one of my biggest priorities is to set a legacy for future leadership teams to follow as well as to make sure Newport has the best 50th year anniversary possible,” Hsia said.
Though the three are near the same age, there’s little rivalry.

“We push each other to achieve, but recognize that we all have our own strengths and tend to build off of those rather than seeking to outdo each other,” said Chiu.

“Maybe on the basketball court, but not when it comes to leadership! We are all very encouraging, supportive and often share ideas with each other,” said Yen.

“I don’t feel any rivalry between the three of us other then the fact that my school is definitely the best out of the three,” said Hsia. (end)

Charles Lam can be reached at

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