With her unwavering commitment to issues of inclusion and social justice, Seiko Shastri has made an impact on countless individuals at Washington University and beyond. Whether it is through her on-campus leadership with the Social Justice Center, Mosaic Project, My St. Louis, Redefining Community Experience, or Women’s Leadership Experience – or community work in and outside of the St. Louis region – Seiko pursues her work with a thoughtfulness and empathy that belie her years.
Seiko’s passion for building diverse and inclusive communities through intercultural dialogue has led her to be repeatedly sought for student leadership roles. As the director of the campus Social Justice Center, Seiko coordinated programs and community partnerships that aimed to increase student awareness of social justice issues. She contributed to the development of the new Center for Diversity and Inclusion by co-chairing a University task force that collected perspectives from students, faculty, and staff.
Seiko has not only earned the deep respect of students, faculty and staff; her work in the community has enabled numerous young people to develop leadership skills. She spent a summer working with Youth Leadership St. Louis, a program run by the nonprofit FOCUS St. Louis, where she developed a participatory research action project for 160 students from 30 schools across the St. Louis region. On campus, her desire to grow the number of confident, civically minded future leaders led her to direct Exploring Leadership for Women, a pre-orientation program for incoming freshmen that cultivates skills and knowledge of inclusive leadership.
Seiko’s interest in intercultural understanding reached a peak during her experience as a Gephardt Institute Civic Scholar. Through this opportunity, Seiko explored her academic and personal passions: the immigrant experience of community. Last summer, Seiko lived in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where she worked on issues of migration and intercultural communication. She also studied Quechua, the language of the Incas, locally used among natives in Cochabamba. Seiko developed tools for social justice work in the future, and she hopes to work with immigrant and refugee communities after graduation, to help build pipelines for more access to resources, specifically in St. Louis.
As her nominator Christine Dolan wrote: “What impresses and inspires me most is her ability to always live in alignment with her values in her daily life. She is a role model who leads with integrity and a strong, kind, gentle voice. Seiko empowers others through her actions, active listening, generosity, and authenticity.” Through her quiet tenacity, compassion, and insight, Seiko inspires leadership and deeper self-awareness in those around her.