San Jose State Grad recognized for advocacy, opening AAPI Center on campus
SAN JOSE, Calif. - One outstanding student from San Jose State University is being recognized for her advocacy and her efforts to open a new center for Asian American and Pacific Islander students on campus.
Nina Chuang graduated Wednesday and also received the President's Governance Award.
Chuang says when she came to San Jose State, she never imagined becoming the voice for thousands of students on campus. And one of her most cherished accomplishments is helping to open a center for the AAPI community.
"We have many students who have sacrificed much to get here. Student parents, undocumented students, students of color, and it just brings me so much excitement but also joy to see them cross the stage," Chuang said.
Born and raised in Fremont, Chuang says advocating for students at San Jose State during some of the most challenging times has been one of the best experiences of her life. She was first elected as director of Student Resources Affairs, then Associated Students President in 2022.
"It’s really mind-boggling and when I think about how far I’ve come and how far we’ve come as students from the pandemic, from combating injustice in our community. I’m just so proud of our community and the Class of 2023," Chuang said.
Chuang says when she arrived on campus, she realized there was no dedicated space for the Asian American Pacific Islander community. Thirty-four percent of students identify as AAPI, so she and other student advocates worked to open the Center for Asian American Pacific Islander Student Empowerment last year.
"I just felt like a contradiction. That I, as an Asian American student, am walking around campus taking classes on the same ground that people who looked like me were processed and incarcerated," Chuang said.
The university was used as a processing center for internment camps during World War II. Chuang was also instrumental in promoting a Day of Remembrance for those sent to internment camps as well as a mural and monument to represent AAPI heritage on campus.
"We have professors, we have mentors, we have students that are passionate about social justice, passionate about change, and passionate about empowering our students to elevate their voices to the next level. I think my journey is a testament to that," Chuang said.
Nina graduated with a degree in Nutrition and Food Science and says she’ll take a year off to work and apply to grad schools.