Sunday, April 29, 2012

UCLA Recognizes Pacific Islander Underrepresentation

This year we highlighted two universities (Sacramento State and the University of Southern California) that recognize Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders as an underrepresented group, and are focusing resources towards America's growing Pacific Islander community. Those universities are far from alone, and over time we hope to give credit to all of the higher education institutions that are leading the way for their peers.  Next month we'll be writing posts related to Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, but before that we'll point out one more school: UCLA

Here are three examples of how the University of California, Los Angeles serves and advocates for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders:

  • They have a long history of recognizing Pacific Islander underrepresentation in higher education.  In 2006, UCLA's Asian American Studies Center published a white paper (which is still available here) on Pacific Islander higher education issues. 
  • The University's Pacific Islander Student Association (PISA) exists to advocate for the needs of UCLA's Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander student body, and to educate the greater university community about the cultures of those students. 
  • UCLA's student-founded, student-run Pacific Islander Education and Retention (PIER) program provides tutoring, academic advising, and other services to help Pacific Islander high school students in their local community. 


Saturday, April 21, 2012

USC Recognizes Pacific Islander Underrepresentation

Beneath a college newspaper headline that had little to do with the P.I.A. project's mission, I found more evidence of a growing realization in U.S. academia that Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in higher education.  Where? In the University of Southern California's Daily Trojan's article on USC's acceptance rate which also mentioned enrollment among what they defined as "underrepresented minorities."

Which groups fell under that definition?
The number of students deemed as underrepresented college minorities (Latino, black, Native American, Pacific Islander) increased from 19.5 percent in 2011 to 20.5 percent this year.

USC also tracks enrollment by race and ethnicity, and recognizes Pacific Islanders as a distinct group.  To see enrollment rates for Pacific Islanders, click here: LINK

The actual number of Pacific Islander Trojans is probably much higher than the numbers being tracked. Why? Because they appear to track multiracial students in a separate category, meaning that multiracial Pacific Islanders may be classified in the "two or more races" tracking instead.  This is significant for Pacific Islanders, because Census data continues to show that most of us identify as belonging to two or more races.

One other cool thing about USC: Last year, they held an annual campus visit program specifically for Pacific Islanders.  Here are articles about that: 2011

Does your university do something similar? Let us know!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pacific Islander America: Kalama, Washington

Last week we linked to an article in Spokane, Washington's local paper, regarding that city's growing Marshallese community.  

Having done so, I'd be remiss if I didn't do a short post on another smaller city in Washington State, which belongs in our "Pacific Islander American" posts: The City of Kalama.  

According to information from each city's municipal website, the City of Kalama was named after pioneer John Kalama, a Native Hawaiian frontiersman who left Hawaii in the early 1800s for the Pacific Northwest. John Kalama was not the only Pacific Islander to leave his homelands for that area -- modern-day Washington State, Oregon, and British Columbia have been home to Pacific Islanders for roughly two centuries. We blogged a bit more on that, and on other Pacific Northwest cities and landmarks with Hawaiian-language names, here: LINK  

Kalama is also credited as the town in which part of the hit movie Twilight was filmed.

To read the City of Kalama's webpage regarding the origin of their name: LINK

(Mahalo to Chris, a P.I.A. project blog-reader and friend who first told me about Kalama, Washington!)

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Pacific Islander America: Spokane, Washington

While our board members were posting our stories about why the P.IA. project matters to us, Spokane, Washington's Spokesman-Review published a story on that area's Marshallese population.  As we've noted in earlier posts, prominent Marshallese communities can be found in places like Salem, Oregon and Northwest Arkansas, as well as others. On more than one occasion, interviewees talked about the importance of education and how the desire for a better education motivated them to bring their families to the United States.

...Paul said the chief reason Marshallese come to the U.S. is economic incentives, "including both jobs and education... 
..."First is education. We want our children to be educated, he said.  Second is our religion.  And third, it's family.  Those are the most important...  

The article also covered efforts within the local community to get more Marshallese students into college.  Marshall Islanders, like all Pacific Islanders, are underrepresented in higher education.

The Spokesman-Review article follows an NPR story that was published last year, which also went into the area's Marshallese community to learn more about why their population is growing, and what sort of challenges they face.


  • Here's a link to the Spokesman-Review story: LINK
  • Here's a link to the NPR Story: LINK
  • For previous Pacific Islander American posts on Marshallese communities, click here and here