Franchesca Amor Aguilar Named Graduate Student Leader of the Year

May 7, 2024
Franchesca Amor Aguilar

By Shelby Crosier

Franchesca Amor Aguilar is passionate about increasing representation for Filipinos and spreading awareness of her culture. Born and raised in Hawai'i, she grew up in a community full of people who shared her heritage, but when she left the state for college, things changed.

“In Hawai'i, there are so many Filipinos, but when I moved to Pennsylvania for undergrad, it felt like there weren't that many,” she says. “From that moment on, I knew I wanted more Filipino representation. I know we're here, but I feel like we're hidden. I want people to know my background, the history of the Philippines, more about Filipino culture and how we're so big with music, dancing, and food. That's our whole love language. So, when I moved to Atlanta to start school at Rollins, I knew that this was a mission that I wanted to pursue.”

As co-president of the Asian Pacific Islander Desi Association (APIDA) in 2023, Aguilar was able to bring that mission to life. She connected with other Filipino students, faculty, and staff at Rollins and hosted events through APIDA that highlighted Filipino history and culture. She considers these connections and events to be her proudest contributions to the Emory graduate community.

In addition to her role in APIDA, Aguilar advocated for the needs of her fellow students as the Department of Epidemiology representative in the Rollins Student Government Association. She also served on the Rollins First-Gen Advisory Board and was a student ambassador throughout her time at the school. For her service, leadership, and contributions to bettering the graduate student experience at Emory, Aguilar was named the Graduate Student Leader of the Year at the 2024 Student Organization Achievement & Recognition Awards.

“It was such a pivotal moment for me to win this award,” she says. “I've tried really hard to create community for myself and others at Rollins and make sure that my voice was heard, as well as other people's voices. So, the fact that faculty (because only faculty can nominate students) even recognized that, not just my peers, was really meaningful to me.”