Profiles of Graduating Seniors 2011-2012

WILLIAM CHIANG (Oakland) says that majoring in AAADS taught him about his identity and community. “The classes that I took transcended the typical classroom experience and challenged my perspectives as I applied theory to practice through different organizations I became invested in. This experience has inspired me to strive and continue serving the under-served API community in the future. I identify as a Chinese American from Oakland, California, and I am a proud AAADS major.”

ANA DUONG (Anaheim) decided to pursue the AAADS major after taking “Law in the Asian American Community” because the course explored the intersection of her interest in law and contemporary issues in the Asian American community. Through Asian American Studies courses and extracurricular activities, she has been transformed into an avid community observer and confident student leader with the political consciousness to identify injustices within society and the passion to fight for positive change. She interned at the Asian Law Caucus (ALC) for the Voter Rights and Voter Empowerment Project and provided program support during the redistricting process. This experience deepened her understanding of the needs and issues of marginalized communities and strengthened her commitment to increasing civic participation and improving access to education and legal services. Ana is also an intern at the Asian Pacific American Student Development (APASD) Office. She co-chaired the 22nd Annual Asian Pacific Islander Issues Conference (APIICON) to foster awareness and spark dialogue about contemporary issues in the API community and to educate and empower attendees beyond the conference. Before Ana attends law school or graduate school, she plans to spend time learning more about herself as a person. Ultimately, she aspires to help build consciousness across the nation. “I hope to inspire everyday people to get involved in making change as we build new political frameworks with how we view ourselves, how we view our communities, and how we view what needs to be done.”

HUY HUYNH (Fremont) hadn’t expected to major in Asian American Studies because before coming to Berkeley, he was never given an opportunity to learn much about Asian American history. After learning about the history of his ethnic community and his family, he decided to major because he wanted to learn more about the various issues that face API communities and to contribute his knowledge and efforts in helping the API community advance further in this country. Huy has been an interpreter for Vietnamese speakers as part of VHIO (Volunteer Health Interpreters Organization), which reaches out to the API community, actively raising awareness regarding Hepatitis B. Huy plans to work in the healthcare field, providing language and healthcare access to the underserved API population while using his background to provide services that are both comfortable and culturally sensitive for his patients. In his free time, Huy enjoys making sushi.

EMILY LA (San Jose) is a strong, educated Southeast Asian American womyn who applies her knowledge and awareness of political, social, and economical issues that affect the Asian American communities “to everything that I do and love.” She came in to Cal as a transfer student and an English major and became an AAADS major after taking classes for self-enrichment and political awareness. She has been a part of the Southeast Asian Student Coalition (SASC), REACH! Asian/Pacific Islander Recruitment and Retention Center, Berkeley’s bboy/bgirl/breaking community, Poetry 4 the People, East Bay Consortium/Cal-SOAP, Berkeley United in Literacy Development (BUILD), and Education Abroad Program (EAP): Thailand! In the future, Emily plans to work with youth in low-income communities, including those who identify themselves as Asian Americans. She hopes to spend some time with her loved ones back home and work towards a master’s degree in Education or to teach in Southeast Asia for a few years.

NGOC GIA LAM was born in Saigon, Vietnam and grew up in Denver, Colorado, in a suburb where there were few other Asians. She came into Berkeley intending to major in integrative biology. She decided to major in Asian American Studies because the classes opened her eyes to certain problems and issues that she was never given a chance to think about before. Learning about the Vietnam War, Vietnamese refugees and the hardships they have had to undergo was invaluable for Ngoc Gia. “I couldn’t believe it took me over 20 years to learn what my family and parents had to go through when we left Vietnam to live a new life in America. What I learned allowed me to appreciate what my family and parents have done for me.” Ngoc Gia volunteers at a health clinic that serves predominantly Vietnamese people and hopes to continue serving the API community in her future profession, whatever that may be. She plans to continue to apply what she has learned in Asian American Studies to new experiences. After graduation, she will travel to Taiwan to study Mandarin while practicing photography in her free time.

LAUREN LIU(San Mateo) is the proud product of a low-income, single mama household.  She graduated in December 2011 as an Asian American Studies and Ethnic Studies double major with a minor in Public Policy.  Through Asian American Studies, she was finally able to learn about her own family’s immigration hystory and put it in a collective context.  She credits her major with changing her life and instilling in her a political consciousness that has now become part of her identity.  She says that one of the most empowering lessons she has taken away is that “it is okay to take up space as an Asian American womyn.” In the future, she hopes to attend law school and work within low-income communities of color, specifically in the field of prisoner rights and prison reform.

JESI TUTOL MARQUEZ (Azusa) knew she wanted to become an AAADS major when she took Catherine Choy’s Asian American Studies 20A class. She finds AAS classes intellectually stimulating and is also attracted to the program’s intimate social environment. She says, “The most empowering thing that I have learned in Asian American Studies is the importance of knowing one’s history. The quote, ‘Know history, know self. No history, no self’ has inspired me to learn about the history of Asian Americans (specifically Filipino/Filipino-Americans) and the history of my own family. The classes, research projects, and interactions with AAS faculty and other students helped me make sense of my own experience.” Active both on campus and in the community, Jesi has worked with the Asian American Law Journal, the Asian Law Caucus, Asian/Pacific Islander Youth Promoting Advocacy and Leadership, Berkeley Pilipino Organizing Project (BPOP), the Committee for Philippine Studies (COMPASS), Partnership for Pre-Professional Pilipinos (P4), Pilipino Academic Student Services (PASS),  and Cal Students for Equal Rights and a Valid Education (CalSERVE). Jesi plans to apply to graduate school at UCLA in Asian American Studies. She also wants to attend law school. She wants to pursue a career serving and advocating for social justice for under-served and underprivileged communities.

KIM NG (Sacramento) started to take AAS classes to supplement her Political Science major. She became passionate about Asian American Studies because it allowed her to think about the intersectionality of race, gender, and class to a degree that wasn’t available in her Political Science courses. Asian American Studies has empowered her to combine critical analysis with passion and action, and to approach every aspect of life with an empathetic heart, a critical eye, and devotion to progress. She has been a tutor for OASES and The People’s Test Prep Services, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing full-length SAT course preparation to underserved communities. When she was younger, she thought tofu was a faceless, limbless animal, but since then has grown older and wiser. She hopes to use the consciousness she’s built from Asian American Studies as an anchor to her values and a compass for her post-undergraduate life.

JEFFREY PU (Monterey Park) is a second generation Chinese American who believes having to balance his Chinese and American identities has been character-building. Because he had always felt the strong salience of his Asian American identity, he was naturally interested in Asian American issues, and his involvement in the Asian Pacific American Theme House catalyzed his decision to pursue the major. He is also involved with the leadership program Blueprint Leaders for Social Justice, which gave him the opportunity to teach and work with a new generation of student leaders. In the future, he plans to use his knowledge of Asian American Studies to enact positive change in government and public policy.  He is currently applying to a number of different government and public policy-related fellowship programs in hopes of getting a foot in the door for future work in politics.

STANLEY PUN(Oakland) became involved in Asian American and Ethnic Studies – he’s a double major – through working with social justice and advocacy organizations beginning when he was in high school. “I love Oakland,” he says of the city where he was born and raised. “I hope to use my degree to become a teacher. Perhaps someday I will become a professor of Asian American and/or Ethnic Studies!”

CASEY TRAN (Hayward) initially intended to minor in Asian American Studies, but after taking AAS classes and joining hardboiled, the Asian Pacific American newsmagazine on campus, she learned more about the issues within the API community and her own family’s history and decided to become a major.  Asian American Studies has helped her better understand the historical context of her family’s experiences and her own identity. She has interned with a number of community-based organizations, including the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center. Her post-graduation plans include a summer associate position at the Greenlining Policy Institute and spending time with her dog, Truffles. Casey plans to be a community advocate to connect her community to relevant resources and programs that will improve their quality of life. She hopes to be in a position to articulate API community issues to policy makers so that legislation can empower and not further marginalize the API community.

LENA TRAN (San Diego) took Professor Michael Omi’s Asian American Studies 20A class and never looked back! Asian American Studies has empowered her to learn her own hystory and the hystory of her peoples that she would not have been able to learn from any other educational institution. For the past four years, she has been heavily involved with the Southeast Asian Student Coalition (SASC). Lena plans to do social justice work for the next couple of years, and after that…who knows! Lena plans to do social justice work for the next couple of years, and after that…who knows!

ALICE TSE (Los Angeles) is a double major in Asian American Studies and Ethnic Studies. Raised by her single mother in a low-income immigrant community, she was inspired to become an Asian American Studies major because it helped her contextualize her own personal experiences and to think critically and politically. It also challenged her to connect theory with praxis–to not only theorize a better world and just deconstruct systems of oppression, but to actually try to do something about them. She has been active in the API community on campus through hardboiled, the Asian Pacific Islander Issues Conference, and the Asian Pacific American Student Development Office. After  returning from studying abroad at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, she plans do community organizing and eventually go back to school in either Ethnic Studies or law.

DENISE WONG (New York City) came to Berkeley in pursuit of Asian American Studies. Influenced by punk ideology, she felt an inclination towards subversive and counterhegemonic thought as a woman and a person of color from a former U.S. territory. She actually thought she made up Asian American studies during high school when she tried to construct an American history through the perspective of Asian immigrants. Once she found out Asian American studies was a real discipline, she applied to Berkeley to study it at what she felt was the epicenter of ethnic studies.  She’s a part of the Asian Pacific American Coalition, hardboiled, and Pilipino Academic Student Services. She has also worked with the Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association and the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops. Denise plans to study for a semester at Meiji Gakuin University in Yokohama, Japan, before applying to law school to pursue a career in human rights law. She’s recently been thinking about trying to become the first progressive Asian American mayor of New York City…but she doesn’t mind if someone gets there first, because “change needs to happen as soon as possible.”

Originally from Guangzhao, CARMEN YE (San Francisco) is a double major in Asian American Studies and Social Welfare with minors in Education and Public Policy.  She says that Asian American Studies was one of the first spaces on campus that she found that felt like home. She firmly believes that “your silence will not save you.  If we do not embrace our agency and hystory as people of color, we cannot progress in the movement for social change and equity.”  After graduation, she plans on studying abroad in Hong Kong to improve her Cantonese, as she wants to work long-term in the city she is from, San Francisco, with the community in Chinatown.  In the future, she hopes to pursue a JD with a joint master’s degree in Public Policy.