Author: Chidester, Autumn

Spotlight on Three Asian-American Women in Connecticut


Lucy is the host of one of WNPR’s popular talk shows, Where we Live. The show spotlights the stories of Connecticut residents and more recently in 2020 received an award from the Alliance for Women in Media, for a conversation she had with a Connecticut mom and her transgender son. The show also earned two national rewards in 2018, from the Public Media Journalists Association. As well as hosting Where we Live, Nalpathanchil hosts the weekly news roundtable, The Wheelhouse.

During her time in Connecticut since moving here in 2006, Nalpathanchil has focused mostly on immigration, including New Haven’s ID card program that was considered controversial, in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, and the series titled Becoming American, which tells the stories of immigrants and the citizenship process.


From 2015 to 2021, Min Jung Kim served as the 6th director of the New Britain Museum of American Art. During her time there, she brought over 25 years of experience in art to the museum field. During this time, she created frameworks that expanded the definition of American Art, and created alliances on both regional and national levels.

Currently, Min Jung Kim is serving as the Barbara B. Taylor Director at the St. Louis Art Museum. In the museum’s 142-year history, she is the first woman to be appointed to this position, and the 11th person overall. She has a Master’s degree in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, with a specialization of Contemporary Art.


Carolyn Kuan is the current Music Director for the Hartford Symphony, and has been the director since 2011. She’s recognized as an extraordinarily versatile conductor and had successful associations with orchestras, opera companies, ballet companies, and festivals on the worldwide scale. As her time as a conductor, Kuan has bridged the gaps between cultural and social issues in her work raising awareness of conversation and the environment through her performances. Before joining the Hartford Symphony, Kuan was also the Associate Conductor at the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Artist-in-Residence at the New York City Ballet, and even the Assistant Conductor for the Baltimore Opera Company.

Kuan is also the first woman to receive the Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellowship Award in 2003. She was also the very first winner of the Taki Concordia Fellowship, and has received additional rewards from the Women’s Philharmonic, Conductors Guild, and the Susan W. Rose Fund for Music. She graduated cum laude from Smith College and received a Master of Music from the University of Illinois, as well as a Performance Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory.


Have more people you’d want to be featured? Please let us know!

Call for Applications: Nom and Boulieng Vorasane Scholarship

Announcing a new call for applications for the Nom and Boulieng Vorasane Scholarship


Please read about our inaugural winners of the Nom and Boulieng Vorasane Scholarship, Lynna Vo and Georgia Mikan.

Lynna is a Sophmore in Human Development and Family Sciences with an Early Childhood Development Specialization applying to the School of Education.

Georgia is a Junior in the Pre-Teaching Elementary Education program in the School of Education specializing in teaching History and Geography in Social Studies.

These two students demonstrated great promise in their ability to contribute to Connecticut communities through education. Their passion and life experience fulfills the aspirations of Khamla Vorasane of BouNam Bakery to train the next generation of Connecticut teachers in Asian American Studies. They also fulfills the mission-driven work of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute to teach anti-racism and serve the Connecticut public.

We know that for Asian American Studies to succeed in Connecticut schools it has to be grounded in the lived experiences of people here. This is why we were so inspired with Lynna and Georgia’s stories and their career goals in education. Lynna shared her challenges and reflections on experiencing the differences between attending diverse, urban and underfunded schools as well as rural, white, and wealthy schools as an Asian American of recent immigrants. Georgia shared her personal journey to seek out Asian American histories and take charge of her own education when her schools ignored the topic nor did they address broader histories of U.S. racism. To support Lynna and Georgia on the their journey they are taking Asian American Studies courses and will be working with the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute’s Advanced Pedagogy Curriculum Lab.

The Asian and Asian American Studies Institute is accepting applications until September 23, 2022 for the Nom and Boulieng Vorasane Scholarship.


The scholarship awards recipients $1,000 and frontline integration in the AAASI Advanced Pedagogy Curriculum Lab.


The AAASI Advanced Pedagogy Curriculum Lab is a collaborative consisting of:

  • UConn students and faculty
  • A state-wide network of Connecticut public school teachers, staff, and students
  • Associated with the Connecticut Council for Social Studies.
  • Associated with the Connecticut’s State Department of Education
  • In partnership with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center


UConn students who have demonstrated interest in careers in public school education.



Students must submit a letter of application, no longer than two single-spaced typed pages, in addition to an informal transcript of completed coursework. The letter must contain the following information:

  • Full Name
  • NetID
  • Declared Degree Programs
  • Completed/Enrolled/Planned AAASI coursework (UConn Course Catalog LINK)
  • Essay describing how you will serve Connecticut communities through work in education


Email your application to AAASI Director, Professor Jason Oliver Chang, at by September 23, 2023

Introducing Cynthia Gao

Cynthia Yuan Gao is a PhD Candidate in American Studies in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. Her dissertation concerns the influence of revolutionary Asia on radical movements in the United States from the 1960s to the end of the Cold War. The dissertation examines three radical groups – the socialist feminist Chicago Women’s Liberation Union, the Hawaiian land rights group Kokua Hawai’i, and the Third Worldist Marxist-Leninist League of Revolutionary Struggle – in order to track how the shifting signpost of Asia as revolutionary vanguard indexed political questions of theory, strategy, and historical conjuncture. She received her B.A. in Comparative Ethnic Studies from Columbia University in 2012.


We’ll be supporting her upcoming research here in the institute, so stay tuned!

Alumni Spotlight: Allison Zhang

My name is Allison Zhang, and I am about to graduate from the University of Connecticut with a double major in Psychological Sciences and Human Development & Family Sciences. I am very excited to say that I am starting my Masters in Social Work at Columbia University this fall. This next step is truly a dream come true. I will be on the Advanced Clinical Track with a specialization in youth, children, and families. My end goal is to become a therapist that specializes in offering services that understands and prioritizes variations and issues within cultural identities. My time in Dr. Chang’s Asian American studies course helped me realize how important this distinction was for my future studies and career. Myself and countless others can attest to the struggles and difficulties that come with being first generation Asian-Americans, many of which can manifest into serious mental health issues. I know through personal experience how frustrating it can be when mental health professionals fail to recognize the cultural implications that are prevalent in our mental health, as one simply cannot separate our culture from our health. Approaching these problems with a one-size-fits all Western perspective can often be shortsighted, and has the potential to be extremely dangerous. With this in mind, I hope that one day I can begin to work through the many traumas that the Asian-American community has collectively accumulated, as well as care for the individual needs of any patient that I encounter. By centering cultural experiences in my services, I hope to be a source of positive change for not only my community, but for the social work field as a whole. I am very grateful to Dr. Chang for his support and guidance through my journey, as it was his course that helped me realize the magnitude of the Asian-American experience and the power it can hold.



March 2021

The first cases of Covid19 in the United States were reported in January 2020, and since that time there has been a massive increase in antiAsian violence across the United States. STOP AAPI HATE notes that hundreds and sometimes thousands of reported incidents occur every month. They report that incidents of verbal attacks, avoidance, physical assault, online harassment, and being spit upon are the most common forms. A recent New York Times article also details many of the abhorrent and deplorable crimes and actions that have targeted Asians over the last year. It is a sad compendium of history and facts that delves into the nuances and complications related to antiAsian racism. Nationally, attacks are most common in businesses, public streets and sidewalks, parks, online and in public transit, but they also happen here at UConn.

UConn’s commitment to combating antiAsian racism began in 1987 with an episode of students’ verbal attacks and spitting on other Asian American peers. What can we say has changed in 33 years? Certainly, our resolve and commitment to the community has only strengthened in these decades, while the number of Asians and Asian Americans at the University has grown significantly. At UConn, there are thousands who identify as Asian and Asian American: 12.7% of the University’s workforce (faculty, staff, administrators, and graduate assistants; Fall 2019), and 10.5% of our students (Fall 2020). In addition, a significant percentage of our international students come from Asian countries.

Mike Keo, ActivistinResidence of UConn’s Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, started the social media campaign #IAMNOTAVIRUS to humanize Asians and Asian Americans targeted by hateful rhetoric, and to counter this virulent and unwarranted malice. We release this statement in the same spirit, to:

  • draw appropriate attention to the intensifying violence against Asians in America;
  • formally state our position in this ongoing conflict of systems, cultures, histories, and sensibilities;
  • and call upon faculty, staff, administrators, and all UConn students and stakeholders to rise to the challenge of actively opposing racism and hate against Asians, all marginalized groups, and all peoples of color.

We state as clearly and as boldly as we can: all of this has impacted us, the Asians and Asian Americans at UConn.What is happening is wrong and we must stand together to not only identify and callout this kind of behavior and its bad actors; but we must work systemically and synergistically to change culpable aspects of our university and society, to ultimately eradicate this malignancy.

Though today’s political climate often attempts to polarize such issues and concerns, we hope that you will see that this is not a political comment. Rather, it is a call for solidarity and commitment, awareness and understanding, attention and action. We stand with our fellow peer groups and associations, institutes and centers, and student organizations at UConn that are committed to combating the prejudiced, racist, harmful, and violent actions and words that attempt to marginalize and divide us even further. We hope that all of UConn will not only stand behind us, your Asian and Asian American colleagues, but stand with us, as we form even greater bonds and grow in numbers and strength across the university.

For we refuse to wear the moniker of the ‘model minority.’ Because of this racial stereotype, Asian Americans are too often left out of discussions of racial justice, thus ignoring our pain, minimizing our feelings, and assuming a passive response. We call on the University’s Administration to formally recognize that antiracist work must account for the historical legacy and impact of racism on all peoples of color, including Asians. Further, we call on the University’s Administration to not only condemn recent acts of violence against Asians, but also consciously recognize the impact that these acts have on our UConn family. Even during the unprecedented times we are living through nowbattling the Covid19 pandemic; addressing the scourge of systemic racism; and navigating economic insecurity and inequity for millions of peoplewe ask the UConn Administration to see that this is exactly the right time to ensure, specifically and concretely, that the lens of justice sees all shades of Yellow, Black, and Brown.

As part of our work as a cultural organization at the University, we will host a virtual panel on March 18, from 56:30pm. “Asians in America: AntiAsian Violence and the Fight Against Invisibility”will feature UConn students, faculty, and staff; provide perspectives on today’s climate and its impact on UConn’s Asian and Asian American community; shed light on our experience;and galvanize antiracist efforts that will benefit us all. To register for the event, please click here.

We also encourage you to access resources and organizations such as:

At UConn, please communicate with your peers and colleagues, with your supervisors, and with the administration, to let them know where you stand, and your need for allyship and support.

The Association for Asian American Faculty and Staff hopes that we can work more closely with you and yours each and every day to combat racism, stifle prejudice, and ultimately deconstruct the systems and structures at our university and within society that uphold the American caste system where all shades darker than white are consciously and subconsciously considered lessthan.

This struggle began centuries ago; it takes on new forms today; and will continue tomorrow, and the next. If our work helps us to achieve greater unity, then we will have found success.

Yours in solidarity,

The Executive Board of the Association for Asian American Faculty and Staff

The Asian American Cultural Center

The Asian and Asian American Studies Institute



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Statement from Centers, Institutes, and Programs on Racial Injustice and Ending White Supremacy

We, the faculty and staff of the interdisciplinary Centers, Institutes, and Programs, stand together to express our shock, our heartbreak, and our outrage at the horrific and senseless killing of George Floyd and the ongoing violence against Black people.

George Floyd, David McAtee, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Kathryn Johnston, Ayiana Stanley-Jones, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland. Too many to list and too many to forget.

Each of these names represents a human being, dehumanized, rendered invisible, a Black life cut short by brutality and wanton violence.

We cannot look away. We cannot remain indifferent. We cannot be silent.

We must expose and confront the deep, pervasive, systemic issues that continue to fuel one tragedy after another. We must work together to bring real change. As academic units and programs of the university founded on principles of social justice and human rights we reaffirm our commitment to educating the next generation of healers and freedom fighters. The vision of change, which this crisis on top of a catastrophic pandemic calls for, is a broad, systemic, and intergenerational strategy. We recognize that broad societal change cannot be legislated alone, but must be cultivated community by community, day by day. To that end, we reaffirm our commitment to creating communities of accountability; implementing actions that dismantle the status quo of white supremacy; and amplifying the voices and experiences of people of color.

As a first step, we encourage you to join us in programs that will bring communities into conversation including tonight’s AACC Town Hall Meeting, presented by The H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center:
The COVID-19 Pandemic and Racism in the African-American Community
Thursday, June 4, at 6 PM (This event has already passed)

We also encourage you to read the public statement on anti-black violence from the Africana Studies Institute:

We stand together with communities of color across the country as they yet again are subject to pain and suffering at the hands of a racist and unjust system. We support our students, from the African American, Asian American, Puerto Rican and Latin American, Women’s and Rainbow Centers, and Native American Cultural Programs, and all who are struggling to demand recognition of their rights and transformation of the conditions in which they live. We are not silent. We are not indifferent. We are implicated and, therefore, responsible. We will not stand idly by while the blood of our community members cries from the ground.

“Justice is not a natural part of the lifecycle of the United States, nor is it a product of evolution; it is always the outcome of struggle.”

― Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, From #BlackLivesMatter To Black Liberation

You are not alone. We are with you.

In solidarity,

African American Cultural Center

Africana Studies Institute

American Studies Program

Asian American Cultural Center

Asian and Asian American Studies Institute

Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life

El Instituto (Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies)

Human Rights Institute

Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center

Rainbow Center

Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

Women’s Center

Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program

A Letter to the Community

From: Asian American Cultural Center, African American Cultural Center, Rainbow Center, Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center, Women’s Center, Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, El Instituto, Africana Studies Institute, Human Rights Institute, Dodd Center, Center for Judaic Studies, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, American Studies Program, International Student & Scholar Services, and Office for Diversity and Inclusion

As the concerns about the COVID-19 virus rapidly increase on a daily basis, we want to acknowledge how this pandemic is impacting members of our community differently.
● There has been a rise of incidents of anti-Asian racism in our local community, our state, our nation and worldwide. Asian and Asian Americans have been subjected to verbal and physical attacks, cyberbullying, discrimination against their businesses, and xenophobic portrayals. We would like to firmly state that such acts of hate will not be tolerated in our community. Such acts only further perpetuate the cycle of violence and fuel white supremacy. We encourage those who have experienced bias of any kind to report the incidents at
● Going home is not safe for everyone. For some family, partners, and/or guardians may be abusive. For support around gender-based violence, please visit the Title IX website at
● Going home is not an option for everyone. Many of our International students are facing travel restrictions that preclude them from leaving and/or returning to the US. We encourage you to participate in the University’s Town Hall on April 14th to share your concerns and suggestions.
● We would like to acknowledge that many folx may be isolated from supportive networks during this time of physical distancing. For many LGBTQIA+ students, returning home may have required concealing one’s true identity in order to survive in a space with family members/others who are not affirming/safe. Connecting to positive resources, people, organizations, and leaders at this time can be helpful. Visit the Cultural Centers’ websites to learn about the different opportunities for support available to you.
● As the concerns about the COVID-19 virus keeps rapidly changing, more and more anti-immigrant sentiment keeps also growing. Unfortunately, a political narrative of a “foreign threat” has accompanied information about the spread of the virus. This anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic speech is wrong and dangerous. The political environment of the pandemic has given rise to hateful conspiracy theories and disinformation meant to scapegoat Asians and Jews, along with Israel and China internationally. We stand in solidarity with our international students, our Asian American students, our undocumented and DACAmented students. In particular, we acknowledge our undocumented and DACAmented students who continue to face the threat of deportation while negotiating the constraints of the pandemic. As if these conditions were not difficult enough, the Supreme Court is poised to rule on the DACA case in the upcoming months, putting additional strain on our DACAmented friends, peers, and family members. Additionally reports can be made to the following websites:
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates – Hate Incident Reporting
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council – Stop AAPI Hate
Southern Law Poverty Center Reporting

Students have shared with us how vulnerable and targeted they are feeling. We are aware that many of our students are facing unemployment, limited access to health care, and other hardships. We also understand that these experiences, coupled with isolation, may manifest in mental health related concerns as well. We would like you all to know that you do not need to navigate these difficult times alone and that we will stand and work with you to get through this together. If you find yourself feeling disconnected or not supported in your current living arrangements,
please reach out to us. You all are citizens of UConn Nation, and in this nation, we do not discriminate, we do not use a narrative of hate, we are citizens that stand in solidarity with one another. Now is the time for us to be safe, be compassionate and empathetic towards each other, particularly those who have been affected by the COVID-19 virus and be engaged citizens. We would like to remind each and every individual that they are valued and needed in this world. The Cultural Centers staff are available to discuss any COVID-19 concerns you may have.
Asian American Cultural Center Website
African American Cultural Center Website
Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center Website
Rainbow Center Website
Women’s Center Website
On-campus resources and updated information about the COVID-19 virus, can be found