University hosts California College webinar for AANHPI students

Sarah Shelton – Photo Editor

Every year in the month of may, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is celebrated. The university this year chose to celebrate it April 6 to May 1 with different events. 

One of these events was a webinar held on April 12 from California Community College for creating inclusive campus environments for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, also known as AANHPI, student success.  

Students and faculty were able to attend online from their own desktops or go to Engleman hall for viewing. 

According to the SCSU Asian American Pacific Islander Committe Center of Excellence for Teaching and Learning’s Flyer, “This webinar will feature system leaders discussing the imperative workforce diversity and the impact of AANHPI representation among faculty, staff, and administrators on student success and equity. The goals of the webinar are to expand knowledge, inspire and motivate campus leaders to be courageous, and lead change in equity-focused hiring and retention practices to support the cultivation of anti-racist teaching and learning environments. This event is for faculty, staff, and students.” 

The panel was run by California Community Colleges own Dr. Abdimalik Buul, who went over information and introduced each speaker. 

One of the first speakers at this event was California Community Colleges’ Interim Chancellor Dr. Daisy Gonzales. 

“This work is not a moment in time. It is a movement. We have to remember that diversity is an ideal, that equity is our strategy. That inclusion is a process, but that justice, justice is the outcome that we see,” Gonzales said. 

Gonzales talked about the fear and hate many communities recieved during the COVID-19 pandemic and how the AANHPI students struggled during this time, and even now. 

“But what we are here to do today is to remind ourselves, that the work that we started was important that what is going to take is more than a commitment. In fact, it is commitment, action and self reflection,” Gonzales said. “And the reality is that where we are headed requires us to really focus on intentional actions. You have a board of governors that is deeply committed to this work. A board that understands that what this system needs today and into the future.” 

Hildegarde Aguinaldo, vice president of the Board of Governors for California Community Colleges, joined the conversation to share how she met her support system to potentially inspire other students like her. 

“I’m the daughter of Filipino immigrants, the granddaughter of educators and the first in my family to become a lawyer,” Aguinaldo said. “As an undergrad I had no idea what being a lawyer entails until by happenstance, I stumbled on a group of Filipino American attorneys and college alumni hosting an event with free pizza and you bet I showed up. Little did I know then that they would become my second family who would walk me through the grueling experience of being a law student and a young lawyer. It was through this organization that I met the first Filipino American Deputy Chief at the US Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California. So they inspired me to pursue a profession of doing what is right.” 

Aguinaldo said these are some of the people that are the reason she is where she is today. She urges viewers to know that representation and inclusivity matter. 

Vice President of Policy Research Campaign for College Oppertunity Dr. Vikash Reddy also joined in to talk about data and statistics. 

“The distribution of some of the Asian Americans in in California in the five counties with the largest populations accounted for almost two-thirds of Asian Americans in in the state with the vast majority coming in in Southern California,” Reddy said. “Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Californians are also similarly distributed. Instead of Santa Cruz County we see Sacramento County, Alameda Orange County and Los Angeles County and San Diego County are the same for both populations. And you know as the state’s second largest ethnic demographic, Asian American and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders carry a lot of political influence.” 

Reddy points out that fewer than one in five Asian American students in the Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander community college earn their degree or credential in six years. He said a lot of work needs to be done in supporting these students. 

“California is home to over 7 million of us, Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders, the fastest growing groups in California. As diverse as we are and as different as we are. It’s time for us to come together to believe to lift each other up not only to segregate for data, but also understand that representation matters for all events, as well as other communities of color and our allies which are very necessary,” Vice Chancellor of Human Resources for Chabot-Las Positas Community College District Wyman Fong said. “It’s very clear that it’s time to amplify our voices of our millions for action.” 

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