District Changemaker Joanna Hua Joins Lady Gaga Foundation’s Global Advisory Board 

by Grace Newton

Joanna Hua spreads joy and knowledge on mental health awareness 

As Joanna Hua completed her application for an Advisory Board position with the Born This Way Foundation, she knew it was an organization she’d be proud to work with. 

“[It was] unexpectedly kind that an application process would allow for me to sit with myself and inspire me to reflect on my passion for mental health advocacy,” Hua said. 

Co-founded and led by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, the Born This Way Foundation is an organization dedicated to eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health through high-impact programming and youth-led conversations. 

Alongside 29 other changemakers chosen from over 500 applications, Hua was selected to serve on the Foundation’s 2021 Advisory Board which will work to plan and execute Foundation programs, campaigns and projects.  

Hua completed her undergraduate degree at Cornell University where she studied government with a concentration in inequality studies and health policy and analysis. Now, Hua is finishing up her Masters of Physiology at Georgetown University. 

A longtime advocate of mental health awareness, Hua focused her high school Girl Scout Gold Award project on creating spaces where students could speak openly about mental health. At Cornell, Hua formed a Mental Health Task Force where she compiled hundreds of life experiences and suggestions from other students and organizations to create a list of recommendations for administration members. She also launched a Mental Health Awareness Week on her campus.

“Validating the emotions of others and being kind to them requires stepping outside of your own ideas of what kindness looks like because what you might perceive as supportive or helpful may not be accepted the same way by another person,” Hua said.

Hua considers Washington D.C. an important place to be when advocating for mental health awareness.

“[It is] a privilege to be in the same space where national political attention is focused on, because it has made me realize that even while being in the same physical space, national politics can be so distant and isolated from day-to-day life, and that it takes special attention to ensure that each community is being heard and taken care of,” Hua said. 

Hua plans to incorporate her knowledge of mental health into future aspects of her life in any way she can. 

“Especially when it comes to medicine. I am so passionate about holistic care and incorporating mental health and physical health, and I hope that with this experience I can learn how to do so not just from a scientific and human perspective, but from an institutional perspective as well.”

As she begins her work with the Born This Way Foundation, Hua continues to pay close attention to her own mental health needs as well. 

“I have recently been trying to listen to what my body wants and needs, and it has been telling me that I miss home-cooked foods,” Hua said. “I have been learning easy home-cooked foods that remind me of my culture and try to carve out at least one meal every couple of days that is dedicated to what my body feels like it wants, and it has served me well.” 

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