Volunteer Spotlight – Deitra Hoang

Introducing Deitra Hoang

Deitra, a junior at Gunderson High School, first began her volunteer work with the library last year as a member of the District 3 Youth Advisory Council (YAC) for the San Jose Youth Commission. She helped design the Spring Teen Survey with TeenHQ, which received over 1,000 responses and co-organized the annual District 3 Policython, a policy-writing event meant to showcase how policy memorandums are written at a local level.

Today, Deitra volunteers as an appointed Youth Commissioner for the City of San Jose, representing District 3, which encompasses most of downtown San Jose and King Library. As a Youth Commissioner, Deitra promotes public resources to youth, hosts monthly YAC meetings, attends monthly leadership and teamwork trainings, represents the youth of District 3 in public general Youth Commission meetings. Deitra has volunteered through the library at city events such as Viva Calle, and attends youth town halls with the City Manager’s Office to provide youth input and perspective.

Deitra is proud she recently passed a policy memorandum on gender neutral bathrooms at a Youth Commission meeting in September and is working with her YAC to develop a policy memorandum in collaboration with community based organization, Hunger at Home.

A Chat with Deitra

As a child... one of my favorite things to do was to go on field trips. In elementary school, my classes would go to places like Monterey Bay Aquarium, the California Academy of Sciences, and Walden West in Saratoga. Experiencing these trips with others was the highlight of my childhood in school.

My first job... was when I was around 10 years old. I “worked” at my grandmother’s food shop next to a Home Depot with my older sister. The stall itself was unremarkable, but each of us had a specific role to fulfill. There, I learned the importance of time management, money, and customer satisfaction.

My fondest memory... is going to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in August with my family to say farewell to my sister at their university. It was the first time I’ve ever been on a plane, and it was also the first time I traveled more than a state away from California.

I am most proud of... my growth over the past couple years. Going into high school, I was relatively introverted, but through taking chances and meeting new people, I was able to take in new information without an overbearing anxiety that I’d do something wrong. Additionally, through the Youth Commission, I was able to expand my community and learn about local government and the opportunities that are available for people to get involved.

My biggest challenge... was finding something I’m passionate about. Initially, I tried exploring different paths to see what I enjoyed doing and spent the time drifting between subjects. Later, I found an interest in sciences. This interest was later fueled by classes I took in school.

My role model... is Harriet Tubman. Through her extraordinary bravery and iron mindset, she saved hundreds of people and went on to be one of the most well-known abolitionists. She supported women’s suffrage and was the first woman to lead an armed raid. She is an amazing war strategist. She is someone whose courage and strength I aspire to have.

My community... is based in my family because it is where my connections begin. My friends are a part of my community through our shared experiences. My neighbors are also part of my community through a shared block. My community is relatively diverse and we are all able to learn from each other.

Libraries are... and always will be the cornerstones of communities. They provide invaluable resources to those who need them and are vital for keeping communities alive and engaged. Libraries and their workers, volunteers, and visitors contribute to countless societies through their willingness to stay involved, spread kindness, and connect individuals with each other.

My favorite movie... is How to Train Your Dragon. It’s a popular DreamWorks animation that I’ve loved since the first time I watched it. It’s an incredibly cute movie and a great film I turn to for nostalgia.

If I had a superpower, it would be... the ability to manipulate gravity. It is very similar to telekinesis so I think it’d be incredibly useful. Also, I’d be able to fly.

I volunteer… to better myself and my community. Through the opportunities available, I am able to learn things about what’s going on around me, grow a more developed mindset, stay informed about our world, and share these opportunities with others. Volunteering is also extremely fun to me since it’s a chance for me to work with like-minded people who are interested in improving their communities.

If I weren’t volunteering… as part of the Youth Commission, I'd be putting my best effort into another resource that helps me and others around me grow. If I weren’t part of the Youth Commission, I would be dedicating more time to school and other community work, maybe such as the San Jose Public Library, to be able to develop my knowledge and connections with others.