CU Denver alumna, Nga Vu’o’ng Sandoval was the keynote speaker at the AANAPISI designation celebration.
CU Denver alumna, Nga Vu’o’ng Sandoval was the keynote speaker at the AANAPISI designation celebration.

CU Denver Celebrates Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) Designation

October 17, 2023

On Tuesday, Oct. 10, CU Denver celebrated its Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) designation and its potential to provide these students the necessary support, guidance, and services needed to become the next generation of leaders. 

The federal status is granted to institutions where at least 10 percent of their undergraduates identify as Asian Americans or Native American Pacific Islanders, and who meet other Pell-eligible requirements. The universities must also demonstrate their commitment to supporting these students through sustained academic and comprehensive services. 

Vice Chancellor for DEI Antonio Farias kicked off the event and introduced Shauna Medeiros-Tuilaepa, a member of the Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission and Colorado Asian Pacific United, as well as the owner of No Ke Aloha, a Polynesian cuisine catering company. Medeiros-Tuilaepa recited an oli, a traditional Hawaiian chant.

The event featured dances by the Philippine American Society of Colorado dance troupe and recognition of some key community partners. CU Denver Chancellor Michelle Marks, CU President Todd Saliman, and Denver Mayor Mike Johnston all spoke, and were joined on stage by Board of Regents Nolbert Chavez and Lesley Smith.

Faye Caronan, an Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies and Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and lead for the AANAPISI grant, shared information about the university’s work in this area and about pilot programs already underway, including:

  • Outreach to local high schools, which exposes diverse students to college-level courses and the transformative power of higher education.
  • Academic support, leadership training, and career exploration services provided by CU Denver.

CU Denver alumna, Nga Vu’o’ng Sandoval (’98, MCJ ’02) was the keynote speaker and she described how her journey began 8,392 miles away in Saigon, Vietnam. Born into a country ravaged by conflict, where the future was uncertain, her family became refugees.

Despite the hardships, she held onto the glimmer of hope for a brighter future, which brought her to CU Denver. The university played a pivotal role in shaping her life. Today, she serves as a U.S. Refugee Advisory Board Project Manager and is an immigration & DEI Advisor at Denver based 3i Law Firm. Reflecting on her journey at the event, she commented on the resilience of the human spirit as a testament to the strength of individuals and communities faced with adversity. And she reaffirmed the power of hope. 

Jaslyn Nguyen, president of CU Denver’s Vietnamese Student Association and a junior who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting, also spoke. She recounted her deep connections to the university (her parents met at CU Denver) and her hopes for the future.

The event was an opportunity to celebrate the work of Lynx community members, including Associate Vice Chancellor for DEI, Sam Kim, PhD, Dr. Brenda J. Allen, a retired Professor of Communication and former Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion, and Peggy Lore, the former Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Success at CU Denver and former Asian American Student Services Director. 

For more information on CU Denver’s AANAPISI designation, click here.