the best colleges and universities for aapi students: usc

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 Southern California
Private University
Location: Los Angeles, California
Founded: 1880
Enrollment: Approximately 16,500 undergraduate students
API population: 21%
Interesting fact: The family home of Dosan Ahn Chang Ho (1878-1938), Korean liberation leader, Los Angeles community activist, and San Bernardino County (CA) labor organizer, is located on USC campus. It currently houses the USC Korean Studies Institute.

"USC is a great place for AAPI students for multiple reasons. We have some of the strongest resources in the nation available for AAPI students, from APASS to Asian American Studies. For a truly holistic experience, from spirituality to leadership opportunities to community engagement, AAPI students can't go wrong at USC." - Nominator

The USC Trojans were selected for a remarkable array of AAPI-focused learning opportunities and campaigns they have won in the last few years that resulted in important institutional changes. The judges were impressed by the multitude of AAPI student organizations and Asian Pacific American Student Services (APASS), which has allowed students the opportunity to immerse themselves in exploring and addressing the issues affecting their community.

At the heart of the AAPI community at USC is APASS. With director Sumi Pendakur and assistant director Jade Agua, the student leaders and interns at APASS organize social justice centered programs. Through programs like APASS CIRCLE (Critical Issues in Race, Class, and Leadership Education), Alternative Spring Break trips to Manzanar (focused on civil liberties and the history of WWII Japanese American Internment) and to Hawai'i (focused on the Native Hawaiian community and issues of sovereignty, poverty, and educational attainment), APASS educates, engages, and empowers students to learn more about themselves, their role in community(ies), and how to take action on what matters to them.

In the last few years, the AAPI community has won some important victories. AAPI students have led organizations like SCALE (Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation), which recently won a campaign to get USC to adopt the Designated Suppliers Program and more humane/anti-sweatshop policies for their branded goods.

Other recent successful efforts by the AAPI community to improve USC's institutional practices include changing the admissions form starting Fall 2010 to include the option to select "Arab/Arab American" and "West/Central Asian" (i.e. Iranian, Armenian, etc.). Another victory was to get the admissions office to code Filipino and Vietnamese applicants as "underrepresented" students, which allowed these groups to significantly increase their numbers this year. The Troy Philippines organization was also able to create a scholarship for Pinoy students to bolster the recruitment and admission of Filipino students to USC.

Congratulations Women and Men of Troy! To see the rest of the Best Colleges and Universities for AAPI Students, go here.

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