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Recipients of Don Nakanishi Award Named

Graduate student C. Aujean Lee and undergraduate student Emily Taing are the recipients of the 2016-17 Don T. Nakanishi Award for Outstanding Engaged Scholarship in Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies at UCLA.

The announcement was made June 7 by Marjorie Kagawa Singer, interim director, and Melany De La Cruz-Viesca, assistant director, of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center.

C. Aujean Lee and Emily Taing

Lee is a doctoral student in the UCLA Urban Planning Department. She was highly regarded and recommended for the award because of her deep commitment to community engagement through research, teaching and activism. She has over a decade of affiliation with the Asian American Studies Center, which includes working on the AAPI Nexus Journal first as an assistant managing editor and then later as a guest editor; serving as a student committee member for the Asian American Studies Department; staffing EthnoCommunications; and conducting research for the center’s “Building Economic Security Over a Lifetime” initiative project funded by the Ford Foundation.

Taing will be graduating this June 2017 with a B.A. in international development studies and Asian American studies and a minor in European studies from UCLA. She is an exceptional student who is sincerely dedicated to community through research and activism. Through a junior summer research fellowship at the Center for Khmer Studies in Siem Reap, Cambodia and her work as an undergraduate research assistant, she has written an Asian American Studies Departmental Honors senior thesis, “Cambodian Women and Remembering across Generations: Refugees, Trauma, and Resilience,” focused on the refugee migration experience, and intergenerational trauma among Cambodian women in the U.S.

Through the generosity of UCLA faculty, students, staff, and alumni as well as community leaders, an endowment was established that honors the late Professor Emeritus Don T. Nakanishi (1949-2016), who served on the UCLA faculty for 35 years and who ably directed the Asian American Studies Center (1990-2010). Among his invaluable contributions to Asian American Studies, he co-founded two national publications: Amerasia Journal (1971) and AAPI Nexus: Asian American and Pacific Islander Policy, Practice, and Community Research (2003).

Nakanishi published widely in the areas of Asian American politics and education, mentored thousands of students, and provided professional and community-based service locally, nationally, and internationally.

The Nakanishi Award includes a $2,500 cash prize award for each recipient. The award rotates annually between faculty and students. The faculty award will be given during the 2017-2018 academic year.

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