Profiles of Graduating Seniors 2012-2013

ALYSSA ABLAO is from San Jose, California. She was first introduced to Asian American Studies after completing APALI, the Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute Program offered through in the summer at De Anza College in Cupertino. During her years at Cal, Alyssa has been a program intern for the Asian Pacific American Student Development (APASD) office and has worked on projects including the Asian Pacific Islander Issues Conference (APIICON), the Center for Asian Pacific American Women (CAPAW), and smaller projects with API Connect. She has also worked closely with {m}agandá magazine to promote the arts in the Pilipin@ community on campus. In the future, Alyssa hopes to continue working on issues in her community, focusing primarily on the impact of mental illness among API youth.

CLARK BILORUSKY is from Oakland, California. A graduate of Oakland Technical High School, he was raised by a teacher father who has been devoted to multiculturalism, equality, and community-based action research with his students. The father of a 9-month-old son, Clark’s hobbies include customizing and repairing cars. He will be starting the Asian American Studies M.A. program at SFSU next fall and will also be facilitating educational workshops for K-8 students at the Galing Bata after-school program 1-2 times a week, featuring topics on Filipino and Filipino-American history, arts and crafts, and a program with “cultural experts” sharing their knowledge with the students. Clark is considering a career in education, developing bilingual education resources for Filipino American communities.

Steven CongSTEVEN CONG is a 1.5 generation queer Chinese American emcee. Because his family moved around a lot, he was exposed to different communities and different social dynamics that sensitized him to how racial hierarchies can function to oppress, which led him to major in Asian American Studies. He became involved in community organizations like the Asian American Theme House (APATH), the API Recruitment and Retention Center (REACH!), and hardboiled, as well as his own projects, which include the East in Beats DeCal course and “AA Limelight.” His senior thesis, “Expression Through the Small Screen,” addresses Asian American responses to YouTube. Steven feels that majoring in AAADS was “one of the best decisions [he’s] made” because it provided coherence to his experiences. Being an AAADS major helped him “develop the insight and skills [he’ll] need after [his] undergraduate career.”

JAMIE NGUYEN came to UC Berkeley from Hayward, California. She wanted to learn about Asian American history and plans to pursue a career in education. While at Berkeley, she learned to think critically and to pay attention to issues of race, gender, and class. Working with Oakland primary school students fueled her passion for working with youth. She says: “I want to help guide their educational pathways and push them to their fullest potential.”

Kassie PhamKASSIE PHAM was born in Marina, California and grew up in San Jose. At Berkeley, she has worked as Co-Publicity Director in hardboiled. She is the Co-Director of the Cal Vietnamese Student Association’s mentorship program, VISION and was in this year’s Cal VSA Culture Show. She was also involved in the Berkeley Project, REACH! ShadowNite, and the Asian American Association (AAA). She works at Eastwind Books of Berkeley. Asked about her major, Kassie replied, “AAADS was everything I always dreamed about when coming to college. I’m involved in work that directly impacts communities, I found the most amazing friends, I’m around folks passionately working at making real changes to the world around us, and I feel like everyday I learn something new that changes the way I look at the world around me. It’s also a plus that professors genuinely care about their students and actively work on knowing who you are personally and what you’re involved in.” In the future, she says, she would like to make a difference: “I want to change the way others view and think about their world the way AAADS changed my perspective.” Kassie hopes to work with high school students in the future, providing a safe space for them to create art, music, videography, poetry, and educational dialogue. She also hopes to travel “a lot.”

A double major in Political Science and Asian American Studies with a minor in Public Policy, JON SONG is from San Diego, California. He was introduced to the Asian American Studies program through Professor Richards’ class on language and culture, Since he had never taken a class on something Korean besides basic Korean language at church, he became interested in not just exploring Korean identity but also in understanding social issues and historical contexts and decided to minor in Asian American Studies. After taking Professor Kim’s Korean American History class he decided to double major and hopes to use his knowledge to help bridge cultural gaps between minorities and their respective majority societies, as well as diasporic communities to their “motherlands.”

mariavMARIA THERESA GERONIMO VALLARTA is from Los Angeles’ “Historic Filipinotown.” She decided to major in AAADS after taking Harvey Dong’s Introduction to Asian American History class. She became inspired to learn more about her identity as a Filipina-American womyn, to educate and empower her community, and to always think critically about the world around her. For three years, Maria was also a member of the student organization and publication {m}aganda Magazine. Her honors thesis is titled “Redefining the Dalaga: The Representation and Transformation of Filipina Sexuality in Literature.” Maria believes in art’s power to impact others and make change. In the future, she hopes to pursue an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and a Ph.D in Ethnic Studies. She would like to become a writer and educator who will fight for underserved and underprivileged communities and organize for social justice.

Originally from Oakland, CA. JANICE WONG says, “Asian American Studies has truly redefined the way I see my community and what education should mean to any college student anywhere.” Janice first decided to minor in Asian American Studies after taking Professor Michael Omi’s Asian American history class. She then decided to become a major after taking Dr. Harvey Dong’s Asian American communities class the following semester. She plans to go to law school after a short break, although she wouldn’t  mind being sidetracked if she finds something else she loves doing.