Helen Mineta Undergraduate Award
The Helen Mineta Undergraduate Award is made possible by the Helen Mineta Fund for Asian American Student Development. This annual $1,000 award honors an undergraduate student from any department or a registered student organization at UC Berkeley pursuing projects or research which seek to improve Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) student life on campus. Managed by the Japanese American Studies Advisory Committee (JASAC) of the Asian American & Asian Diaspora Studies Program (AAADS). Deadline and submission requirements for this award will vary annually as determined by JASAC. Please direct inquiries about this award to Dr. Lisa Hirai Tsuchitani at: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Helen Mineta
The daughter of Japanese immigrants, Helen Mineta (BA ’50, MS ’52) graduated from San Jose State College in 1938 with dreams of becoming a teacher but was told by her professors that no one would hire a person of Japanese ancestry for such a position. Undaunted, she worked in the Speech and Drama Department at San Jose State University while studying commerce until the onset of World War II, when she and her family were incarcerated first at a temporary detention facility at the Santa Anita
Racetrack, and then at the Heart Mountain Concentration Camp in Wyoming. After the war she would earn another bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Helen remained actively involved in the Asian American community, giving lectures on the racism she confronted and overcame during World War II and throughout her life as a teacher of politics and government for more than 30 years. This award has been created to honor her legacies of courageous and passionate civil rights advocacy, leadership, and mentorship.