Why did you choose to major in Asian American Studies?
The early ’90s were an exciting time for Asian American Studies at The Claremont Colleges. Professors Jack Ling and Linus Yamane were teaching The Asian American Experience, the first Asian American Studies course at the 5Cs in about a decade. Increasing numbers of faculty with some degree of interest in Asian American Studies were being recruited into various departments, and the opening of the Asian American Resource Center at Pomona College positively contributed to the increasing need to include Asian American Studies as a field of study. At that time, nobody had majored in Asian American Studies on any of the five colleges (that I knew of), and there was no better place to do it than Pitzer. Assembling twelve courses and taking every Asian American Studies course offered not only gave the field representation from the student side, but proved that it was indeed possible and viable.
Describe your current occupation and how what you learned as an Asian American Studies major helped you achieve success.
I am currently a human resources consultant with Towers Perrin. I believe a Pitzer liberal arts education provided me with a broad framework with which to face both life and my career. Asian American Studies at Pitzer gave me the ability to redefine myself—I became informed about how culture and ethnicity are shaped. Growing up, my brother and I were a close approximation of the model minority, and we operated within that stereotyped framework. Pitzer was the beginning of my personal redefinition, but the process of my personal defining took many more years. The knowledge I gained from Asian American Studies gave me
the wherewithal to undergo a reshaping of my professional self.
What was your most memorable course in Asian American Studies?
I’ll never forget Joe Parker sending me into my first class: The Other Speaks Back with Dorinne Kondo at Pomona. My first exposure to Asian American Studies was a whirlwind of ethnic and cultural politics mixed with post-structuralist theory barely discernable as English. To say I was in over my head was a gross understatement. Somehow, I got through it with a basis for the rest of my learnings and a zeal to continue on. Learning that there is an underlying politic that surrounds and shapes our experience as Asian Americans cemented my desire to pursue Asian American Studies as a major, and I began my journey in clarifying who we are and where I fit.