Azia Calderhead pursues community engagement through the ASUO

Many know Azia Calderhead as the ASUO internal vice president. What fewer know is that behind her title, she is also a Harry Potter enthusiast with a black belt in Taekwondo. Though these may seem like varied interests, diversity is Calderhead’s M.O. — a sorority member, ASUO representative and candidate for a journalism program in Africa this summer, she strives to embrace it all.

“She always wanted to be more and more involved,” Chrissy Hardesty, a long time friend of Caldherhead’s, said. “She always pushed herself to do the most that she possibly could for the school.”

Hardesty, ASUO external affairs director, met Calderhead during sorority recruitment and became her sorority sister in the UO chapter of Alpha Chi Omega. Hardesty first recruited Calderhead to work on a campaign for the ASUO during Calderhead’s freshman year and has seen her transition into a leadership role ever since.

Calderhead has served as an ASUO intern, the first year recruitment director and the internal vice president. This year is Calderhead’s third and last year working for the ASUO.

Calderhead’s friends and colleagues emphasize the current VP’s capacity for friendliness. Whether she’s talking about her goals or the finale to American Horror Story, she is engaged and enthusiastic.

“You have to get to know Azia, because if you get to know Azia you’re going to meet someone who right from the start will care about you a lot,” Hardesty said.

Calderhead is passionate about her future in journalism and looks up to women like Oprah Winfrey and Lisa Ling. She changed her major from political science to journalism in order to better make an impact on young people.

“I’ve grown so much from it and I want other leaders to have a chance to develop within the organization,” she said.

She cites her former intern, Emma Silvers-Harnly, as the perfect example of what she wants to see more of from the ASUO.

The admiration is definitely mutual.

“She’s pretty incredible.” Silvers-Harnly said.

Calderhead helped Silvers-Harnly to navigate the ASUO and eventually take over her position as the first year recruitment director.

This is Calderhead’s last year with the ASUO. While her heart will always be in the ASUO, she is leaving to pursue other opportunities.

“The fact that I’ll be done with the ASUO still hasn’t hit me because I’m so immersed in it right now,” she said.

When Calderhead leaves the ASUO this June she will study and intern abroad in Accra, Ghana with about twenty other journalism students from UO.  Calderhead is looking forward to seeing the way that media works in a different culture and of course, the food.

Up until this year, Calderhead thought she’d settle in Santa Monica, Calif., the generational home of her parents and grandparents, after graduation. But the more people she meets – primarily through the ASUO – the more she considers branching out.

She will no doubt be missed in the ASUO office.

“If you took a poll in the office, she’d be in the top three favorite people in the office because she’s so friendly,” Hardesty said.

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Alexandra Wallachy

Alexandra Wallachy

Alex is a head correspondent at the Emerald focusing on higher education and student government. She is also a producer for the Emerald Podcast Network and a huge fan of the Daily Show.