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Portrait of Telyse Masaoay

Reagan Leader - APRIL 2019

Télyse Masaoay

Télyse is a senior Chancellor's Scholar at Vanderbilt University, double majoring in Sociology and Medicine, Health, and Society. Her primary passion is uplifting marginalized voices, particularly in public policy settings. With those interests in mind, Télyse has interned as a policy associate with the Navajo Nation Washington Office through the Reagan Foundation's Leadership and the American Presidency program in Washington, D.C. Most recently, in the summer of 2018, she worked as a Global Health Policy intern at the Center for Strategic International Studies, a D.C. think tank. At Vanderbilt, she is the president of Vanderbilt Tour Guides, chair of the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Committee, head resident adviser for an upperclassmen residence hall, and vice president of Native Americans in Tennessee Interacting at Vanderbilt. She is the recipient of two Student Leadership Development awards and was recently recognized by her university as a Top 10 Outstanding Senior of the Class of 2019. Following graduation in May, Télyse will be working in Chicago as a health policy analyst at Mathematica Policy Research.

Télyse has been a long-time member of the Reagan Family. She first got involved through the Great Communicator Debate Series during her sophomore year of high school. Since graduating, she has participated in the Leadership and the American Presidency Program, the 2017 and 2018 Reagan Leadership Summit, the 2018 Reagan Institute Summit on Education, and most recently was a moderator for the Great Debaters event in February 2019. Her biggest takeaway from her time with the Reagan Foundation has been that growth as a leader necessitates reflecting on historical figures and events, while equally paving your own way boldly into the future.

Interview With Télyse Masaoay


If you could say one word defines leadership what would it be?

Advocacy - I believe that leaders, particularly ones in positions of power, have the responsibility to demand the best possible situation for the people they represent and the teams they serve.

Who helped you grow into the person you are today?

My grandparents have been two of my biggest supporters throughout my leadership journey. My Papa and Neema have reminded me every day that I am smart and strong and kind. They never allowed me to see myself as lesser than others and taught me how be steadfastly confident. All the while, they have given me a selfless example of how to live modestly and empower others with love.

What is something you want to improve or help guide someone else to improve?

I am passionate about a lot of issues on and off my campus, including paying student workers, ending sexual violence, addressing climate change, and fixing our healthcare system. But something that's been really hard for me is realizing that I can't take on all of those challenges at one time. In short, I'm working on how to say no to myself and to others when I feel overwhelmed.

What are you reading right now?

I'm currently reading Seraya Chemaly's Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger; it's a fascinating credo about the ways in which society has taught many of us to repress the feelings that could motivate us to action. But I also recently read Jon Krakauer's Missoula, which I think is a must-read for any college student.

What is your favorite hobby?

I really enjoy weight-lifting. It's the kind of workout that empowers you, and I think as a woman it can be difficult to get away from messages that tell you to be thin and fragile. It took me a long time to get comfortable in the weight room, but when I finally did, I felt like I could take on the world.