Baiyang Li, MSW ’21, has received a 2021 International Student Leadership Award from NYU’s Office of Global Services. The award recognizes international students who have made a significant contribution to improving campus life for fellow international students at an NYU site in the U.S.
NYU Silver’s Associate Director of Inclusive Engagement and Student Life Angie Kim and Academic Advisor Liz Chon, who nominated Baiyang for the award, explained that Baiyang has been an incredibly involved student leader and international student advocate since entering NYU Silver’s MSW program in Fall 2019.
Among other things, Baiyang started the NYU Silver International Student WhatsApp chat group; was co-leader of Silver’s Chinese Student Support Group; participated in the redesign of the Silver Language Partners Program, which helps connect Silver international students with domestic students, and was the International Student Representative for the NYU Silver Graduate Student Association. They were also selected as an NYU Social Sector Leadership Diversity Fellow and participated in an 18-month, cohort-based leadership development program that centers the experience of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color communities.
“Baiyang is a quiet force and the fiercest advocate,” said Angie. “Baiyang not only advocates for international students, but also actively builds coalitions with other marginalized student groups such as students of color and queer and trans students.”
An international student from China, Baiyang holds a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmaceutical Engineering from Zhengzhou University and was previously an engineer. Prior to seeking their MSW, Baiyang spent a decade doing activist work in queer, women-led LGBTQ organizations and feminist groups in China. Baiyang’s passion for gender equality and social justice steam from a strong belief in the empowerment and advancement of marginalized, especially queer women and nonbinary people of color. Baiyang also has an interest in the intersection of immigration and child welfare. “Working closely with culturally diverse clients who have mental health needs or behavioral challenges has allowed me to see the disparities and barriers to accessing care for marginalized groups.” Baiyang said. Baiyang wants to gain more clinical social work experience in working with culturally diverse populations in the short-term and pursue a higher level of education, conduct culturally responsive and socially just research, and develop and implement social interventions to make positive change at the individual, organizational, or national levels in the long run.
“As a social worker, there are many directions you can engage with, even with a concentration of your choice,” said Liz. “Baiyang has been able to navigate and dedicate their curiosity towards all different types of branches ‒ advocacy, policy, clinical work, community engagement, and more. I have no doubt that Baiyang will have positive impacts in the communities they will be serving based on their high level of leadership and care as a graduate student.