Profiles of the Class of 2011

DAPHNE LO is an Asian American Studies major with a pre-nursing track. She intended to major in Molecular and Cellular Biology, but she found her science courses to be competitive and impersonal. She says that there was lack of one-on-one time with her science professors. She switched to Asian American Studies last Spring, having taken Asian American Studies 20A: Introduction to the History of Asians in the United States when she was a freshman. Through Asian American Studies, Daphne has become more aware of issues affecting her community such as the model minority myth. She says that she has a better understanding of being Asian American in history, politics, and society. With this understanding, she hopes to bridge the gap between the social sciences and the hard sciences. Ultimately, she wants to become a nurse practitioner and bring her knowledge of medicine into the Chinese American community. After graduation, Daphne will do research for 2 years at TexasTech University in the Health Sciences Center before applying to nursing school.

ALLYSON FERNANDEZ is a transfer student from San Francisco City College. She was inspired to pursue Asian American Studies after taking Ethnic Studies: Pilipino Language and Culture under the Pin@y Educational Program (PEP)at City College. Allyson says that Asian American Studies has “fueled her in school” and “raised her political awareness and conciousness.” Through Asian American Studies and Ethnic Studies, she has come to see her education as a form of activism. She has come to realize how race, gender, and class affect all aspects of society and our lives. Allyson brings this consciousness to her classroom at Burton High School where she teaches Ethnic Studies to juniors and seniors part of PEP. Allyson is also involved in the Hemophilia Foundation of California. After graduation, Allyson will pursue her both her masters and Ph.D. in Asian American Studies at SF State before becoming a professor. Currently, a big part of her life is dedicated to her baby boy, who is expected in June.

Originally from Hercules, California, JASON ESPINOZA uses his music as a form of activism. He has DJ-ed and performed at events for the Southeast Asian and Pilipino communities. He recently DJ-ed at Berkeley’s 21st Annual Asian Pacific Islander’s Issue Conference. Jason is a double major in Asian American Studies and Integrative Biology. He was first introduced to Asian American history in Harvey Dong’s 20B class, where he was able to place his family’s immigration within a collective experience. He says that it was Harvey Dong who first asked him to consider music as a form of resistance. Through music, he “understands how sound affects him and others and how it is used to spread ideas, thoughts, and political views.” After graduation, Jason intends to become more involved in the local politics of Hercules where there is a large Pilipino community. In the future, he hopes to pursue his D.O. at Touro University.

JOBELLE ROMULO was inspired to major in Asian American Studies after being involved in Pilipino Student Forum and Aids Drugs Assistance Program in high school where she learned about the model minority myth and how it masks the mental health problems of the API community. In her high school, the Pilipino student population underutilized the health resources despite being the largest ethnicity group on campus. After taking Asian American Studies 20A with Professor Catherine Cenzia Choy, she decided to pursue the major. Jobelle says that Asian American Studies has empowered her to relay what she’s learned to her family and to understand herself and her family better. Jobelle is active in both the on-campus and off-campus community. She is involved in Pilipino Academic Student Services and Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC). SHAC is composed of student representatives that dissemintate information to the campus community and also relay information back to University Health Services. Outside of the Berkeley campus, Jobelle is a college counselor at Burton High School under the SF College Access Center. After graduation, Jobelle plans to go to graduate school for education and to eventually pursue a career in education or public health.

KEVIN YOU is a transfer student from College of San Mateo and Skyline College. He was born and raised in Chinatown, San Francisco. Asian American Studies 20A inspired him to explore the other courses in the program and influenced his decision to major in it. He says, “[Asian American Studies] allows me to be a free, critical thinker. It allows me the freedom to question seemingly normal everyday life. Sure, it doesn’t put me on track to a stable career, income, like the robots of engineering, science, business, but it allows me to think critically about the society that we live in and to think for myself which other majors can’t do.” Outside of academics, Kevin is involved in Neighborhood Visions Project, which is an after school program for students in San Francisco. The students meet every Friday and learn and interact with each other through games and other activities. After graduation, Kevin will be applying to jobs and keeping his future open.

Born and raised in Richmond, San Francisco, JESSICA CHIN is a double major in Asian American Studies and Art history. She was first introduced to Asian American Studies when she took 20A with Professor Harvey Dong in the Spring Extension program. She says that Asian American Studies has been a process of “self-discovery” for her and what she has learned from her classes is very relevant to her life. Jessica has chaired the Issues committee for Asian American Association. One of the projects that she worked on was the language revitalization conversation where groups of students got together to converse in their home languages. The purpose of the program was to prevent language loss and to provide a space for students taking foreign language courses to practice. Jessica is also one of the managing editors for hardboiled, the Asian Pacific American newsmagazine on campus. After graduation, Jessica envisions a career in education, the arts, or the non-profit sector.

LAUREN CHANG entered Berkeley as an intended Integrative Biology major. She was inspired to major in Asian American Studies after taking Japanese American History with Professor Jere Takahashi. She found the class engaging because it explored issues beyond internment and looked at contemporary issues such as outmarriage. She also enjoyed connecting with her classmates through small group work. She describes the class as a “close family” because she was able to learn about her classmates on a personal level that other classes did not allow for. Lauren intends to take the Dental Admissions Test after graduation and eventually go into orthodontistry. Currently, Lauren is a staff writer for hardboiled, UC Berkeley’s APA newsmagazine.

XUEMIN ZHONG is a double major in social welfare and Asian American Studies. She has an interest in serving the elderly and families in the Asian Pacific Islander community. She is very active in the API community on campus. Since her sophomore year, she has interned for the Asian Pacific American Coalition, a body of API student organizations on campus. APAC works to raise awareness about API issues. Each year, APAC hosts a townhall where ASUC candidates are invited to answer questions from the community. Under APAC, Xuemin has also helped plan APA Heritage Month, which was declared to be May. In the past, APAC has held a street fair where student organizations, local food vendors, and performers come together to celebrate APA Heritage Month. Xuemin is also involved in OASES, a tutoring program for K-12 students in Oakland. She is a member of Berkeley’s Asian American sorority Sigma Omicron Pi. After graduation, Xuemin will take the GRE and get her masters in either social work or library and information sciences.

LISA TRAN grew up in Westminster, Orange County, the biggest Vietnamese enclave in California. She entered Berkeley with an interest in both Psychology and Asian American Studies. She says, “Asian American Studies has taught me to be more race/gender/queer conscious. It further developed my political consciousness, community involvement, and decolonial thinking. Four years ago, I was definitely a different person, never questioning the methodologies nor the institutions of colonial education.” Lisa has served as an ASUC senator during her sophomore year and has been involved in Cal Vietnamese Student Association as historian and External Vice President. She is currently an undergraduate representative in Academic Sentate, intern for Asian Pacific American Student Development Office, and mentor for Vietnamese American Mentorship Program. After graduation, Lisa intends to work for 2-3 years before pursuing a MPP, MPA, or Masters in Educational Policy/Higher Education.

Born in San Francisco, ANNA KONG is a 4th year in Asian American Studies. She became interested in the major when she took AAS 20A with Professor Michael Omi and found that the topics and coursework applied to her. Since her sophomore year, Anna has been involved in Oakland Asian Student Education Services, an afterschool tutoring program that helps API students from low-income families navigate the education pipeline. Anna is currently the volunteer coordinator for OASES. After graduation, Anna intends to either serve the Chinese community in Chinatown through health awareness or join Americorp.

CHARLIE NGYUEN entered Berkeley as a Chemistry major but found his science classes isolating because of the long hours he had to spend in lab. He considered many other majors before settling on Asian American Studies after taking AAS 20A and 126: US Refugee Policies and Southeast Asian Resettlement and Community Formation. Through Professor Um’s class, he found that his personal experiences were part of a collective experience. Charlie has been involved in Cal Q&A, which he considers his “family and home.” After graduation, Charlie hopes to attend graduate school in either Ethnic Studies or Asian Americans Studies and eventually teach.

SUNY KIM UM is from San Jose, California. He says, “Majoring in Asian American Studies wasn’t intentional, but rather it felt like fate. I enjoy learning about the discourse in colonization, immigration, diasporas, etc because it all ties back to trying to find myself and understand myself and why certain things are the way they are.” Suny is very active in Southeast Asian Student Coalition, Reach! API Recruitment and Retention Center. Outside of academics, some of Suny’s activities include photography and producing videos. After graduation, Suny plans to study abroad at Thammasat University in Thailand and volunteer at SWING, which works to empower, motivate, and inspire individuals recovering from being sex trafficked and human trafficked. He also hopes to do further research within the field of Asian American studies and Asian Diaspora studies and look at different interdisciplinary studies such as Queer theory. Eventually he would like to attend graduate school for Ethnic Studies or Asian American Studies.

EUNICE KWON started out as an English major before realizing that she did not want to write English papers. Her first Asian American Studies class with Elaine Kim inspired her to take more classes and eventually become a major. She says that through Asian American Studies, she has been able to better understand herself and her experiences. Asian American Studies has allowed her to understand others and to see the needs of her community. Eunice has been active in the API community through hardboiled, ASUC, Calserve, Coalition against 2012 Admissions Policy, and Asian Pacific American Student Development. After graduation, Eunice intends to work in DC or do community work in the Bay Area. Eventually she hopes to attend graduate school for public policy or law.