the best colleges and universities for aapi students: ucla

This month, to kick off the school year, I'm partnering with Asian Pacific Americans for Progress to bring you a very special list of The Best Colleges and Universities for AAPI Students. Over the next two weeks, we'll be profiling the top ten best schools for AAPI student activism (in no particular order). Today's campus is...

University of California, Los Angeles
Public university
Location: Los Angeles, California
Founded: 1919
Enrollment: Approximately 27,000 undergraduate students
API population: 47%
Interesting fact: A list of notable alumni reads like a "who's who" in Asian Pacific America. They include Congresswoman Judy Chu, California Assembly Members Warren Furutani and Mike Eng, Stewart Kwoh (founder of APALC), Kal Penn (actor and associate director of the White House Office of Public Liaison), actor and LGBT rights activist George Takei, 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 it up. But 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 Asian American Studies 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 umbrella organization for AAPI student organizations at UCLA. It runs an annual internship program, which empowers AAPI students to become progressive leaders in AAPI communities on and off campus. APC internship alumni go on to lead other 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. Forging relationships with community-based organizations, APC has worked with KIWA to secure a living wage for Koreatown workers and with J-Town Voice to confront issues of gentrification in Little Tokyo. There are also a variety of student organizations that provide direct services to AAPI communities, such as 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? To see the rest of the Best Colleges and Universities for AAPI Students, go here.

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