Praising the theme of “Perseverance and Unity,” Cal State Fullerton President Mildred García hosted the Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month President’s Reception April 30 with dance performances by the Pilipino American Student Association and poet Shirley Geok-lin Lim.
President García commended the University’s API students, faculty and staff for “doing what great Titan API leaders have always done: they are ‘reaching higher,’ they are working together, and through ‘perseverance and unity,’ they are building a brighter future for the next generation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that will be ‘Riding Into California ” — a reference to one of Lim’s poems. She also pointed out that the percentage of API students at Cal State Fullerton has gone from nine percent in 1985 to 20 percent today.
The University president welcomed keynote speaker Lim, emeritus professor of English at UC Santa Barbara, who spoke about her own journey as an academic, a writer and an immigrant from Malaysia, and pointed out that “the story of resilience is an American story.”
Discussing the many reasons why people want to come into the U.S., she mentioned the “push-pull dynamic, the story of survival … and of course, education. Education is one of the major engines for survival in the U.S. — and this is what you can do for your students.”
Also in attendance was David Chen, professor of kinesiology and president of the Asian American Pacific Islander Faculty and Staff Association (AAPIFSA), who presented scholarships to two outstanding graduating students, Vattana Peong (M.A. public health) and Emily Wang (M.A. communicative disorders). Chen also recognized the efforts of Craig Ihara, emeritus professor of philosophy, and Jennifer Baldaray of Student Academic Services, who both serve in AAPIFSA’s executive board.
Photos of the event are available online.