Homecoming is a tradition at Virginia Tech that celebrates students and alumni coming home. Every year, 14-16 candidates are selected to be a part of homecoming court to present a social cause platform that they would like to implement on campus.
Time: Fall 2019
Duration: 6 months
Skills: Brand Identity, Marketing Strategy, Campaign Design, Web Design, Illustration, Animation, Print
Tools: Illustrator, Figma
In the Spring of 2019, I was selected by the Virginia Tech Homecoming Board to be a Homecoming Candidate for the following 2019-2020 school year with my sponsoring organization, the Vietnamese Student Association. Traditionally, each candidate runs on a platform revolving around a social cause that they care about and want to share with the Blacksburg community. Virginia Tech's motto, Ut Prosim or That I May Serve, serves as the main focus during homecoming week as candidates campaign in support of their cause of choice. Students can vote throughout the week and at the end, the winner receives $1,000
to help implement their platform on campus.
When I first learned that I had the opportunity to do this, I knew that I wanted to bring attention to a cause that would help expand Virginia Tech's global footprint. The school currently provides a myriad of local service opportunities, and while there are some opportunities abroad, there are very few to help developing countries in Asia. As the first candidate to be sponsored by the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) and to represent the umbrella of all asian organizations at Virginia Tech, it was important to me to run a campaign that was representative of both my values as a Vietnamese American and the values of the Asian American community. For my platform, Education Strong With Tam
Hoang, I decided to pair up with an incredible non-profit called Children of Vietnam.
Children of Vietnam (C0V) is run by 11 people total (two in U.S. and nine in Vietnam) and is committed to serving Vietnamese children whose lives are stifled by poverty. One large initiative that COV works on is providing educational opportunities for children with disabilities, in single family homes, and in rural minorities in Vietnam. They help these vulnerable children by building school facilities, regulating clean drinking water stations, providing school supplies, giving university scholarships, holding academic tutoring workshops, providing methods of transportation, and more. When I first heard about COV, I was blown away by their dedication to helping those in need and the enormous amount of families they have impacted in just 22 years.
Their work and mission, Building bright futures for vulnerable children in Vietnam, resonated with me as well as my family. This mission is something that holds close to Vietnamese student population at Virginia Tech as well, as the majority of us are first generation college students whose parents fled from the Vietnam War to provide better opportunities for their families.
Here are just a few of Children of Vietnam's milestones in past 20 years:
• Built 43 Kindergartens giving 8,800 children an early start to a brighter future
• Gave 11,066 children access to an education through scholarships and educational aides
• Constructed 777 homes for families which gave reliable shelter to 1401 children
• Repaired 151 houses, orphanages, street children’s program facilities impacting 916 children
• Gave 838 University and Vocational Training Scholarships
After refining my platform, I met with Nancy, the Executive Director of Children of Vietnam to learn more about COV and how I could help them reach their goals through my campaign.
1) Bring awareness
Right now, there are no events or organizations besides VSA on campus that helps support COV. Larger non-profits, such as Relay for Life, are well known in university towns because they've established a collegiate presence across the world. Although COV is smaller (run by only 11 people), their impact is huge. It may be difficult to get students to stop, listen, and care about a cause, especially when the school does not have a solidified relationship with the non-profit organization. There are currently over 30,000 students at Virginia Tech. How can we help bring attention to COV and engage students to participate and care?
When I met with Nancy, I learned the importance of knowing who you're giving to and where the money is going. When students are unaware of a cause or charity, it may be hard to encourage them to donate. With knowing comes caring, and our main goal for fundraising was to share the stories of the lives that COV has influenced and educate students on the tangible and direct impact they can make with their contribution.
3) Build A Foundation
Currently, there are 964 clubs and organizations at Virginia Tech, and only two of them focus on directly providing service opportunities in or for Vietnam (Vietnamese Student Association and GIVE). With this campaign, I wanted to help COV establish a larger presence at Virginia Tech and create a foundation for future students to help make a direct impact. As Hokies, we begin by focusing our efforts to aid the Virginia Tech campus communities, but we now have the resources and ability to extend Virginia Tech’s global footprint and make a tangible and direct impact on the Vietnamese community. Virginia Tech has the people, passion, and resources to help those in need in another country, so why not do it?
For the visual design of my campaign, I wanted to create something that was playful but also told a story. Since my platform, Education Strong With Tam Hoang, focuses on providing educational opportunities, I drew inspiration from my childhood memories in school. I was also inspired by Children of Vietnam's influence in their communities and wanted to reflect the tangible and direct impact towards these children's lives.
I chose a color palette and type pairings that felt youthful and reminiscent of moments unique to attending school such as hanging out on the playground during recess, riding the bus to and from school, and reading Dr. Suess books. To add tangibility to the overall design, I hand drew various textures and hand illustrated additional visual elements using crayons and markers. I expanded this design system for my campaign across social media posts, physical print materials, and merchandise.
To bring Education Strong With Tam Hoang to life, I created various materials to help raise awareness and fundraise for Children of Vietnam.
For print advertising, I designed a variety pack of five flyers to match the color palette, a 3 ft.
x 6 ft. banner, and an a-frame. The flyers were used to hand out to students, the banner was displayed in our student success center and used to represent my platform at the parade, and the a-frame was displayed outside of an academic building for entire week. The purpose of the print materials was to get students interested in learning about my campaign with Children of Vietnam by displaying a visual narrative and driving traffic to the COV website with the addition the respective QR code.
To push the campaign's online presence, I created social media graphics for friends, family, and members in my sponsoring organization, VSA, to use. I designed a variety of profile pictures, cover photos, posts, and stories to help educate students on COV's impact. Along with making graphics, VSA helped me organize a promotional photoshoot to use as a part of the social media campaign and helped create a strategic plan for social media posting. The main goal of the social media design was to be more personal with the campaign and to help fundraise for COV. Throughout the week, VSA and I shared stories of the lives that COV has helped alongside the social graphics. Additionally, we ran two fundraising campaigns--one on Instagram story and one on Facebook.
To help fundraise for COV, I designed t-shirts and tote bags where 100% of the proceeds
were donated. In total, we ordered 100 t-shirts and 65 tote bags (and sold out! 😊). The photoshoot we held for the social media posts also acted as a way to help promote the merchandise and to encourage students to purchase to donate for a great cause.
Additionally, I designed stickers and buttons to give away for free at my booths as promotional material.
As a side project, I developed redesign concepts for Children of Vietnam's website following
the campaign's visual design system.
During homecoming week (October 14 to October 19), each candidate had a booth at a different location on campus everyday from 8AM to 5PM. This is where most of my physical campaigning took place, and where I had the opportunity to tell students about my platform and hand out flyers, buttons, and stickers. VSA and I also participated in fun events throughout the week such as Homecoming's Got Talent and the annual Homecoming Parade.
Homecoming's Got Talent
Homecoming's Got Talent is a talent show that all the candidates participate in. VSA and I prepared a traditional Vietnamese fan dance to perform as our talent. This was one of my favorite homecoming events, as it was an incredible experience being able to share a part of my heritage with an audience I had never performed in front of before. We won the talent show and as a result, I had the opportunity to take over the official Virginia Tech Snapchat for a day. Many thanks to my VSA fan girls and choreographers for their dedication and for making this possible!
For the game day parade, each candidate created their own "walk" or float. For my walk, I wanted to do something interactive and representative of the Vietnamese culture. My friends and family walked by my side with my sponsoring organization performing a traditional lion dance. It was really special seeing the crowd waving and engaging with the lion dance performers. We won the parade, receiving $250 to donate towards Children of Vietnam.