Best Colleges and Universities for AAPI Students: UCLA

It’s day 2 of the Best Colleges list organized by APAs for Progress and Angry Asian Man.  Again, the top ten are being presented in no particular order.
Today, we’re profiling UCLA.

Location: Los Angeles, California
Founded: 1919
Public university
Enrollment: Approximately 27,000 undergraduate students
% Asian/Pacific Islander: 47%
Interesting fact: A list of notable alumni reads like a “who’s who?” in Asian Pacific America.  They include USSA President Greg Cendana, Congresswoman Judy Chu, John Delloro (president of APALA), CA Assembly Members Warren Furutaniand Mike Eng, Lisa Hasegawa (executive director, National CAPACD), founder of APALC Stewart Kwoh, Kal Penn (actor and associate director of the White House Office of Public Liaison), actor and LGBT rights activist George Takei, Abhi Tripathi (helped start Sepia Mutiny), Manan Trivedi (candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania), and many more.

UCLA should be picked as the Best U.S. College/University for AAPI activism because it not only has one of the longest histories out of any university, it also continues to be extremely active on campus, in the local Los Angeles area, and on national campaigns such as the DREAM Act. No school’s legacy of API student activism can match ours both in terms of historical legacy as well as current vitality. – UCLA Students

That statement would be brash if the Bruins didn’t have a lot to back up that declaration.  Not only do UCLA students have a whole lot of opportunities to learn about AAPI issues in classes and to develop as community leaders in programs on campus, they take the mission of service and activism to another level off campus too.

On campus, students can pursue an academic major or minor in the Asian American Studies department, which is one of the oldest and largest in the nation with 40+ professors.  In the last year, students won a battle for AAS to offer a Filipino Studies concentration.  Students can also take advantage of the resources at the Asian American Studies Center.  In 2008, students organized the “Beyond Boundaries: Education in Action” conference, which commemorated and evaluated the progress of 40 years of Asian American Studies and activism at UCLA.

The Asian Pacific Coalition (APC) serves as the collective organization of AAPI student groups at UCLA.  APC and member AAPI organizations run internship programs, which empower students to become progressive leaders in AAPI communities on and off campus.  Internship alumni go on to lead various organizations on campus like the Student Retention Center,which is the first student run, student initiated, and student-funded center of its kind in the nation.  Most recently APC successfully led the “Count Me In!” campaign to disaggregate AAPI ethnic data in the University of California system. The Coalition is currently advocating for mental health resources targeting AAPI students as well as for the DREAM Act.

Using the assets on campus, students are also active community organizers off campus.  The Student Initiated Access Center empowers low income K-12 youth in the greater Los Angeles area to apply and enroll in college.  Through relationships with community-based organizations, students have worked with KIWA to secure a living wage for Koreatown workers and with J-Town Voice to confront issues of gentrification in Little Tokyo. Also, there’s a variety of student organizations that provide direct services to AAPI communities.  One in particular of note is the Asian Pacific Health Corps, which runs free health fairs for residents of Los Angeles’s Chinatown to get free health screenings.  UCLA students have also worked with other API-related health organizations, such as Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches.

As one of our judges put it: “Wow. How can anyone compare to UCLA?”

Can I get an 8 Clap?


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