Rex Wang (Graduated: 2016)UCI, Asian American Studies
I decided to major in Asian American Studies because it was an interdisciplinary program, so I got to learn about Asian American history, stories, and experiences in different lenses. Growing up, I remember filling out surveys and questionnaires in which I always identified myself as Asian American without much thought. Once I got to UCI, I started really asking myself what it meant to be Asian American. I was able to explore this identity and community through campus and community organizations as well as AAS classes. One of the most important things I learned through AAS courses is to ask questions! You don’t know what you don’t know, so asking questions helps you learn and engage within the classroom.
My background in AAS allowed me to learn about and explore intersectionality in identities and experiences. This is especially important in my current work at Student Transition Services as a Program Coordinator for the Parent and Family Campus Connections program. The program was developed to support the parents and families of first- generation, low- income students and connect them to the university. When developing intentional programming and services for our families, I keep in mind the challenges families face in navigating the university such as limited family resources (time, transportation childcare) or communication barriers. Understanding the intersectionality’s of identities and experiences allows me to provide personalized and specific support to our families as they transition into or through the university.
AAS was such an integral part of my time at UCI. I chose to volunteer for the AAS research internship because my experience with this history was very limited to what I had heard in my AAS classes. My professors briefly mentioned how students fought to have AAS at UCI and how there was a hunger strike in the 1990s. Being a part of this internship allows me to analyze and contextualize the history of AAS as a living process with many people involved instead of a single or defining moment. The founding of AAS at UCI happened on Ring Road, in front of buildings we pass by everyday, and in the spaces we study or work in. The thought of that really excites me! There’s so much history around us when we take the time to look around and listen. Looking through the archival collections, in general, has been very exciting! My favorite has to be reading through Rice Paper, which was a newspaper for Asian American and Pacific Islander students in the 1990s. Students, staff, and faculty contributed articles, artwork, and creative writing pieces relating to the AAPI community and what it means to be AAPI. It was neat to see that students created this space for themselves to explore their identities and cultures as well as have conversations that we are still having today!
A lot of the classes in AAS are small and intimate. Not only do you get to know your professors well, but they get to know you as well. Have you ever felt intimidated to approach a professor or speak up in class? That was me when I first started at UCI. When I was taking my first upper- division course, I was surprised to find out that my professor knew my name even though we had very few and brief interactions. My professor knowing my name meant a lot, especially in a university setting where we meet countless people everyday. It gave me the courage to use my voice and share my ideas. Besides the class size, taking an AAS course is a challenging yet rewarding experience. You’ll question what you know, learn and unlearn constantly, and find connections in things you once thought were unrelated.
Kim Chu (Graduated: 2015)Asian American Studies
I decided to major in Asian American Studies because I had taken the lower division courses for the major and I realized that much of the material that we had covered in lectures was all new information for me. I wanted to be able to understand the issues that Asian Americans had faced in order to be a better advocate within our community. As a future educator, I want to be able to bring awareness of these issues to my students so that they have a better understanding of Asian American history. As a recent graduate, community activism has helped me by becoming an intern at a nonprofit organization. Additionally, I have been able to apply the knowledge that I learned as an undergrad to my workplace, where we focus on social issues.
Andy Le (Graduated: 2014)
-Majored in Biology and AAS (2015)
-Member of Vietnamese Student Association and Retention and High School
Outreach Coordinator for the Southeast Asian Student Association
-Working towards a Masters in Library Information Sciences
Jean Lyn (Graduated: 2005)Criminology, Law and Society with a minor in Asian American Studies
Placement: University of California, Irvine
Andy is a proud UCI alumnus from the Class of 2014. A first- generation college student, Andy received his B.A. in Criminology, Law and Society with a minor in Asian American Studies. One of his memorable Asian American courses is the Vietnamese American Experience 151D , which allowed him to explore his Vietnamese American identity and contribute to the Southeast Asian Archives. As a student, Andy co- founded the Southeast Asian Student Association (SASA) in Fall 2012, to foster a supportive space for Southeast Asian students to continue to tell their parents? refugee and immigrant stories. Andy has returned to the Student Outreach and Retention (SOAR) Center as the Student- Initiated Programs Advisor for Outreach. In his new role, Andy looks forward to inspire and empower student leaders who are passionate about social justice, educational equity, and promoting college access.
Learn more about SOAR at http:/ / soar.uci.edu/ .
Sunny Lee (Graduated: 1996)
--Double majored in AAS and Social Science (2001 to 2005)
Member of Chinese Association
-Served as Campus Representative and provided UCI campus tours
-Studied abroad in Cambridge, England
-Currently works at private, small liberal arts college as a Career Counselor
helping students figure out how to write resumes and to navigate their career
Eileen Chun-Fruto (Graduated: 1994)University of California, Irvine
University of Maryland, College Park
Claremont Graduate University
Placement: UC Berkeley
I am a UCI alumnae (1996) and majored in Criminology, Law, & Society. I finished my major early and then took almost every Asian American Studies class that was available during that time. The selection wasn’t as abundant as they are now, but I appreciated each course and how it helped shape my undergraduate experience, research interests, and career choice. As a student, I joined the Asian Pacific Student Association (APSA) which was the perfect place for to me to put into practice what I was learning in AAS. We organized around affirmative action, racial profiling of Asian American men students, and built coalitions with the other umbrella organizations in the Cross-Cultural Center. I also wrote for the Asian American newspaper which was called Rice Paper at the time. AAS courses nurtured my critical consciousness in ways I could not have imagined otherwise possible. It gave me the self-confidence to be a leader, the courage to express myself, a sense of purpose and mission, and the tools to understand my own life experiences as an immigrant woman of color.
The combination of AAS and my involvement in student activism propelled me into a career in student affairs. I wanted to support student development in a social justice framework and make a difference in the lives of underrepresented students. I went on to the University of Maryland, College Park to earn a masters degree in College Student Personnel where I held the first graduate assistantship to advise Asian American student leaders. My advisor, classmates and I published some of the first works on Asian American student development. We co-edited the first monograph about Asian American college students that is still used today in student affairs masters degree program. My background in Asian American Studies at UCI served as a strong foundation for much of this work.
My first full-time job out of graduate school was working in the Asian American Resource Center at Pomona College. I then returned to UC Irvine to work as a staff member at the Cross-Cultural Center before I moved on to Cal Poly Pomona to become the director of Student Life & Cultural Centers. AAS and my involvement at UCI planted a seed for social change and justice that has been growing ever since. I went on to earn a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Claremont Graduate University and currently work in the Ombuds Office for Students & Postdocs at UC Berkeley where we provide conflict resolution services. I credit my education in AAS for providing me the grounding to understand phenomena from multiple perspectives that continues to aid my work today.
I am truly grateful for the influential role that AAS has had on my life in the personal, professional, and political realms!
Cynya Michelle Ko, Ed.D (Graduated: 1994)
-Majored in Social Sciences at UCI (1990-1994)
-Chair of APSA (1993-1994), Secretary of APSA (1992-1993), Co-Chair of APAC
(1992-1993), Cross Cultural Center Fellow (1993-1994), Member of Search
Committee for Director of Asian American Studies Program (1993-1994)
-Currently an Immigration Attorney
Rachelle Ang (Graduated: 1993)
-Majored in Social Ecology and Minored in Comparative Cultures (1991-1994)
-Co-Chair of APSA and President of CAUCI, CCC Fellow, Cultural Chair
for Alpha Chi Omega, SPOP Staffer, Rice Paper, ESCAPE Movement participant
-Spent the past two decades in higher education and non-profit leadership
-Full-time parent to two year old twins and engaging in volunteer service:
Chair, National Board of Directors - for Project by Project (PbP); Director,
Board for the Asian Pacific Community Fund (APCF)
May May Lee (Graduated: 1991)
-Women's Studies and Social Ecology double major (1989-1993)
-Co-chaired Asian Heritage Week and served as secretary for Kababayan
-Helped with the ESCAPE movement and APSA to advocate for Ethnic Studies
including Asian American Studies
-MSW from UC Berkeley, graduated 1998
-Currently a case manager at CSU Long Beach in the counseling center and
Disabled Student services
-Majored in Economics and a minored in Management (1987 - 1991)
-Co-chair of APSA and At-Large position for ASB
-Attended Claremont Graduate University and received teaching credential and
Masters in Education (1995)
-Coordinated the Asian American Resource Center at Pomona College for 3
-Currently teaches 6th grade in Monterey Park, CA