Speakers and Workshop Presenters

Ms. Ava Albano

Ms. Albano is a new graduate who earned her bachelor’s degree in Health Science, Business Administration option and a minor in Filipino and Filipino American Studies. She is currently in her Master’s program in Health Care Administration. She has been very involved in the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities since she was a sophomore in high school. She has worked with organizations like Pilipino Youth Coalition, Pilipino American Student Association (PASA of CSUEB), Soulciety non-profit organization, and the Center for Filipino Studies. The Journey to Success Education Summit enables her to share her experiences in college while taking on leadership roles in the API community, as well as her graduate student experiences.

Dr. Steve Arounsack

This past decade has witnessed Steve Arounsack's career as a university professor merge with his passion as a media developer. At age 19 he became editor-in-chief of Lao Vision Magazine, widely regarded as the first prominent national Lao-American hybrid publication. Since then, Dr. Arounsack’s media productions have been showcased on PBS, satellite television, at universities, and at exhibitions across the nation. Recent notable activities include: media director for the Lao Oral History Project (2010) and creator of a touch-screen program Legacies’ MIC (2007-09). Additionally, Dr. Arounsack coordinated the first two Lao International Film Festivals for the Center for Lao Studies and is chairing the fourth film festival at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2013.
Among numerous distinctions, Dr. Arounsack was part of the inaugural class of prestigious national Gates Millennium Scholars (2000-2005) and is a senior fellow with the American Leadership Forum (2009-2010). He serves on the Board of Governors (2010-12) for the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Emmys®) and is vice chair (2009-2012) for the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center (SEARAC). He earned a doctorate in Ecology from the University of California, Davis. Currently, Dr. Arounsack is an assistant professor of cultural anthropology at California State University, Stanislaus, where his courses focus on Asian cultures, digital media, visual anthropology, and global issues.

Ms. Amerae Jean Bergado

Ms. Bergado is a first-generation college senior who will be graduating at the end of Spring 2012 with her degree in Liberal Arts and a minor in Psychology. She is a Filipino youth minister who is active in various community events. She has always wanted the opportunity to share her story of hope in the university system. She feels so blessed being the first one in her family to earn a four-year degree. She knows that her personal experiences at Cal State East Bay, being a financial aid recipient and participant in the Educational Opportunitye Program (EOP) can help show others that you can succeed even if the odds are against you. Hear her share her story of struggle and gratitude towards the college experience at this educational summit.

Mr. Detwarn Buntun

Detwarn Buntun was born and raised in Stockton, California, and attended Edison High School where he was a three sport athlete excelling in football, basketball, and track. As a high school senior, he was voted most likely to appear as a featured athlete on a Wheaties cereal box. Detwarn was the first in his family to attend and finish college. After transferring from San Joaquin Delta College, Detwarn earned his B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of the Pacific, his M.Ed degree in Secondary Education along with a Social Science teaching certificate from Grand Canyon University, and his M.A. degree in Education Administration and Leadership with an administrative credential. While at the University of the Pacific, Detwarn was heavily involved with the Black Student Union and Psychology club.

After a few years of teaching, Detwarn began his work in the office of undergraduate admission as an admission counselor where he counsels and advises students and families in regards to admission procedures, financial aid processes, academic programs, and extracurricular activities. Detwarn also oversees diversity initiatives and coordinates multicultural events for prospective students. He affirms the saying from Malcolm X: “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

His advice to students is "Always keep your future and your goals in mind, the time passes rather quickly and before you realize it, your future will be here before you know it. Take your education seriously, give your best efforts in all that you do and great things will happen for you; education is your doorway to success."

Dr. Kim Geron

Dr. Geron is Professor of Political Science at Cal State East Bay. He is a Co-Project Investigator of a five year U.S. Department of Education AANAPISI Grant – Student Service Operation for Success (SSOS) which focuses on the recruitment, retention, and graduation of historically underserved Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander students at Cal State East Bay. He received his B.A. in Labor Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of California, Riverside. He co-authored The Snake Dance of Asian American activism: Community, Vision, and Power.

Professor Geron has also published articles on Asian Americans in the journal, Social Problems, and has several book chapters that study Asian and Pacific Islanders. Other relevant positions and memberships that Professor Geron has held include serving as the current Alameda County Chapter President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), and he serves on the community advisory board of Asian Community Training, which provides leadership development training for Asian Pacific students at San Francisco Bay Area universities. 

Ms. Norah Ledoux

Ms. Ledoux is of Samoan heritage, born in Hayward, California, and raised in Fairfield. She is a senior and a Criminal Justice major. She is an advocate for the Pacific Islander community as well as higher education. She is passionate about young people and hopes to pursue a career that helps her work, mentor and help encourage Pacific Islanders--especially Samoans-- to become educated and successful. She was the National representative for AANAPISI at the APALA conference in Washington, D.C. and will be interning with The Department of Interior in Insular Affairs in Washington D.C. this summer. She plans to research the pathways that lead to incarceration of Samoan youths within the Bay Area and hopes to use this information develop programs to empower them to move toward a different direction in life.

Mr. Phong Luu

Mr. Luu is the Program Specialist for Outreach and Community Relations at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) and the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS), and has been with these organizations since June 2011. In this role he conducts scholarship outreach on behalf of APIASF/GMS through interactions with students, high schools, and community based organizations. He takes a data-driven approach to inform outreach strategies and implementation of scholarships to support Asian American and Pacific Islander student access to higher education.

Mr. Luu graduated with his B.A. in Economics and International Studies from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2010, where he was actively involved on campus as a student and young professional. He was a recipient of the Powers-Knapp Scholarship and worked with a variety of student organizations.

Commissioner Sokhom Mao

Commissioner Mao is a former foster youth, first generation Cambodian American, and son of Cambodian war refugee parents. For the past 10 years, Sokhom has been one of the leading advocates for equal access and resources in higher education for former foster youth and the Asian American community. As a high school freshman, he volunteered as a mentor to many first generation Asian American elementary school students with his work with the East Bay Asian Youth Center. Since the age of 14, Sokhom has met with local, state, and national policymakers to help push for improvements in the foster care system. Moreover, he is a founding member of the San Francisco State University Guardian Scholars Program where he advocated for the expansion of supportive programs for former foster youth in California colleges.

In 2007, he testified before the San Francisco Planning Commission and protested for a new Chinatown community college campus replacing the deteriorating community college campus to ensure that all students have equal access to adequate instructional materials, in safe, clean, and decent learning facilities. This past year, Sokhom made history by becoming Alameda County’s first Cambodian American Juvenile Justice Commissioner and Vice-Chairman of the East Bay Asian Youth Centers Board of Directors. Commissioner Mao is a graduate of San Francisco State University.

Mr. Jorge Morales

Jorge Morales, outreach assistant in the Office of Outreach and Relations with Schools since July 2007, knows what kind of doors and opportunities community colleges can open. "I'm a former community college student," he says. "I transferred to U.C. Berkeley in 2001 and graduated in 2004, and I owe it all to community college. Now, as part of De Anza's Outreach team, I speak to students about how amazing this college is and how to be successful once they get here."

Morales has helped expand outreach services to more than 70 high schools, reaching out particularly to Latina/o students in East Jan Jose and Peninsula high schools, and provide support to prospective students and parents. "Jorge has gone above and beyond his regular job duties by assisting students and parents one-on-one to navigate the enrollment process and connecting them to support services and programs," says nominator Rob Mieso, director of Outreach and Relations with Schools. 

Morales says he is passionate about helping students. "Working for Outreach allows me to help students by encouraging them to continue on with higher education. It is truly an amazing feeling meeting students who think they are not 'college material' only to see them motivated and inspired after one of my classroom presentations," he says. "And it's an even better feeling seeing some of those same students here at De Anza College now."  

Mr. Jean Paul Nguyen

Jean Paul joined Cal State East Bay as an enrollment counselor in 2007, after pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Biology at Cal State East Bay. He enjoys helping students get into the university and finds his career choice to be rewarding. He advises students to explore different courses, to choose a major that suits them best. He encourages students to live on campus at least the first two years, to enjoy the rewards of living on campus without commuting. With numerous programs offered through student life, and campus clubs and organizations, Jean Paul believes students are more inclined to have fun and meet people when they stick around after class.

Ms. Loan Nguyen

Ms. Nguyen is a first-generation junior who started attending Cal State East Bay in 2011. She is a Sociology major studying the Social Services Option and plans on pursuing her Master’s degree in Social Work upon graduation. She is a Vietnamese single mother who works very hard in her academic pursuits and has managed to earn grades of A and A- with a load of 20 units. She wants to give back to the community and to reach out to those who can make a better future for themselves by listening to others who have gone through similar hardships and encourage them that they can still attend college.

Mr. Alani Pahulu

Mr. Pahulu is a first-generation junior who began at Cal State East Bay in 2011. He is a Construction Management major. He is of Tongan descent, and he ran his own business for 13 years. His business did not succeed as he had hoped, and he returned to school to earn his college degree onstruction management and to return to the work force. He wants to share his life experiences with young people to encourage them to follow their ambitions.

Mr. Joshua Paulos

Mr. Paulos is of mixed heritage: Filipino, Mexican, and Panamanian. He is a first-generation college student and San Francisco Bay Area native. He’s finishing a double major in Human Development and Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. He also had the privilege to participate in the Ronald E. McNair Post baccalaureate Scholars Achievement Program, a program designed to prepare students for graduate research opportunities. He considers it a great honor to give back to the upcoming generation/cohort of students (and parents), some of whom might be grappling with the challenges of increasing tuition and of finding a job after college. He states, “Considering the question whether a college degree is really worth the time and energy pursuing, I can say that a college degree is definitely worth pursuing; my attitude towards education is nothing but positive!”

Ms. Avantika Shastri

Avantika Shastri practices immigration law at Van Der Hout, Brigagliano & Nightingale, LLP, in San Francisco. She defends immigrants in deportation proceedings, and represents them in applications for asylum, family-based immigration, and citizenship. Ms. Shastri is also on the Board of Directors for Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, a social justice organization serving the Asian and Pacific Islander communities of the Greater Bay Area. Ms. Shastri received her law and undergraduate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley.

Ms. Shastri was inspired to practice law after volunteering in college for a Berkeley non-profit that supports and advocates for domestic violence survivors in the South Asian community. That experience exposed her to the importance of the law in protecting civil rights and the immense need for lawyers from diverse communities. Ms. Shastri was born in India and immigrated to the United States with her parents at the age of three and she grew up in the East Bay area.

Ms. Tram Vo-Kumamoto

Ms. Vo-Kumamoto, Dean of Mathematics and Sciences, at Chabot College immigrated to the United States when she was five years old with her family from Vietnam. She attended community colleges, transferring from City College of San Francisco to U.C. Berkeley. She completed her B.A. at Berkeley in Psychology and Social Welfare. Before working at the community colleges, Ms. Vo-Kumamoto worked in non-profits providing social services to at-risk youth. After completing her Masters in Counseling from Cal State East Bay, she has worked Chabot College as a General Counselor for seven years. In 2008 she was promoted to her current position in the Science and Math Division. Ms. Vo-Kumamoto provides expertise in bridging academic and student services to develop comprehensive programs that support students toward completion of their educational goals.  

Dr. Evaon Wong-Kim

Dr. Wong-Kim is Chair and Professor of the Social Work Department at Cal State East Bay. She is also a licensed clinical social worker in California. Dr. Wong-Kim has been an advocate for minority and low-income breast cancer survivors, especially the Asian immigrant and Pacific Islander population. Dr. Wong-Kim is a member of the Intercultural Cancer Council since 1995, a national advocacy organization for improving the cancer mortality rate of the underserved populations. Dr. Wong-Kim is the Principal Investigator of a project: Racial Healing among Former Foster Care Youth: A project funded by the Kellogg Foundation that focuses on racial equity within the foster care system.

Dr. Wong-Kim was a member of Minority Women’s Health Panel of Experts for the Office on Women’s Health. Dr. Wong-Kim conducted research on topics relating to health disparities, cancer survivorship and palliative care provided to Asian immigrants, quality of life and health disparities issues affecting the Asian American immigrant and Pacific Islander population. Dr. Wong-Kim is a well-recognized advocate and researcher for minority and low-income cancer patients, especially the Asian immigrant and Pacific Islander population. She has published papers on issues relating to cancer survivorship, community attitude towards cancer, and the quality of life confronting immigrant Chinese cancer patients.

Dr. Meiling Wu

Dr. Meiling Wu is Principal Investigator (PI) and Project Director of Program SSOS – Student Service Operation for Success at Cal State East Bay, a five year U.S. Department of Education AANAPISI Grant. Dr. Wu is Associate Professor and Coordinator of Chinese and Japanese Programs of Modern Languages and Literatures at Cal State East Bay, served as Department Chair in summers of 2007 through 2011, and was the co-chair of Asian/Pacific Islander Faculty and Staff Association from 2006 to 2010. She was the PI and Project Director of Pashto and Dari Programs at Cal State East Bay, one of the CSU Strategic Language Institutes sponsored by the grant of U.S. Department of Defense. Dr. Wu serves on many faculty governance committees at Cal State East Bay, including the Academic Senate (2008-2012), and currently chairs the Committee on Budget and Resource Allocation. She also served as on the Selection Committee for the California Pre-Doctoral Program (from CSU to UC graduate programs) from 2002 - 2007 and as the Chair of Mandarin lower division transfer programs (from community colleges to the CSUs) for California State University, Office of the Chancellor.

Growing up multilingual, (Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and local Min/Wu dialects) and receiving higher education from the United States, Dr. Wu is a scholar of East Asian languages, cultures, and literature. She has taught in both public and private sectors of higher education in the U.S. Born to a family that has had an international lumber business enterprise in Borneo (Indonesia and Malaysia), Singapore, China, Taiwan and Japan, Dr. Wu has been a frequent visitor to Southeast Asia and is familiar with managing a large budget and multi-cultural operations. Dr. Wu has won many awards, including Cal State East Bay research grants 2006, 2004, and 2002; the CSU Wang Family Faculty Award in 2005; and a research fellowship from Cornell University in 2001. She was awarded the First Prize for a Short Story from Central Daily News of Taiwan in 1995 and has published many journal articles and books.

Ms. Geralyn Concepcion Yparraguirre

Geralyn earned her B.A. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine, with a Minor in Business Management and earned her M.A in Higher and Postsecondary Education, from Teachers College, Columbia University. She was raised in San Francisco where she participated in educational outreach programs prior to high school and has realized the positive influence that special programs can have in shaping a student’s inclination towards learning. While at U.C. Irvine, she became involved in student leadership, including serving the Filipino American Community and assisting first-year college student transitions to their new environments. She then enrolled at Columbia University in New York City.

Geralyn began working with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions in May 2008. Her many duties include informing students of policies and spreading awareness of information vital to the admissions process. In addition to her work in Undergraduate Admissions, she also volunteers with both junior high and high school students because she believes that these years are vital to creating a strong foundation that can be built upon during one’s college years.

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