Scholar Success Stories

APIASF Community College Scholar Launches New Initiative to Better Support Students

John Liu

John Liu immigrated to the United States when he was 16 years old. As a newly immigrated student, he faced many challenges as he completed his high school degree and began to navigate the world of higher education. In 2010, John enrolled at De Anza College, one of APIASF's partners for its community college scholarship program.

Taking a chance, John decided to apply for the APIASF community college scholarship. In his application, John wrote that if he was selected that he hoped to find a way to give back to other students and make a difference for the Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) community. In the fall of 2010, John began his journey as an APIASF Scholar.

"Receiving the APIASF scholarship helped me see that I was part of a broader group," said John. "After getting the scholarship I realized that there were others who have experienced the same challenges."

John used his realization to look for ways that he could develop his leadership skills and be more active on campus. "My first term at De Anza I participated in the Cross Cultural Partner Program (CCP) and I was able to see that the partnership was great, but I realized it was not enough," said John.

Pulling from his experience as a student leader, John came up with the idea to create an extension of CCP that would be a student-run organization. Instead of the format of the traditional program where each English Language Learner (ELL) student was paired with a fluent speaker of English, the student-run organization would allow students to meet as a group and connect with many students at one time.

The format of the club also allows students to bypass the application process of the CCP program and makes it more accessible. Participants include students from many different backgrounds and ethnicities beyond the APIA community.

"There are some students who are getting involved because they want to learn more about the immigrant or the APIA experience so it is a great way to educate people," said John. "Doing activities together helps people relate, discover cultural diversity and increase awareness."

He hopes that through the program he will be able to help more newly immigrated students in their transition to life at De Anza and help others be more sensitive to the experience of APIA students.

In the photo above is John Liu speaking at the 2011 APIASF Higher Education Summit in Washington, D.C.