SF State program aspires to create community for AAPI students
The ASPIRE Program works to provide students with support and community
May 13, 2021
With the rising number of hate crimes against Asian Americans, programs such as the Asian American and Pacific Islander Retention and Education, ASPIRE, are used to support students and members of the AAPI community.
In 2016, SF State Asian American Studies Department, in tandem with Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, created the program as a way to provide a space for students who are struggling academically and financially.
La Raine Gonzalez, a peer mentor for SF State’s ASPIRE program, said that ASPIRE had made a significant impact on her and her college journey by giving her a community that made learning a lot easier.
“Ever since my first year, I find myself coming back into the ASPIRE spaces and the ASPIRE courses,” she said. “Those classes would definitely be the classes that had the most community.”
The program consists of three different components: broad dissemination of information; student learning communities with culturally relevant and community-responsive practices; and faculty development and faculty learning communities.
ASPIRE provides workshops for students struggling with time management, preparing for life after graduation and managing stress and mental health. There have been events where students learn how to foster a queer AAPI community, as well as others that surround women of color in Hollywood, art therapy and music.
Timothy Bautista, who also mentors for ASPIRE, said that he uses his time as a peer mentor to check in with his students and see how they are doing both academically and personally. Bautista’s conversations with students are meant to provide students with whatever help they need.
“We work to provide a community and an environment in which they can excel and grow,” he said.
On March 26, after six Asian women were shot and killed in three Georgia spas, ASPIRE put out a statement saying that it had opened multiple student spaces to discuss the increased wave of racism and violence against Asian American communities. Since then, ASPIRE has been hosting student forums where, according to Gonzalez, about 60 to 80 students attend to discuss their safety concerns.
ASPIRE director and Asian American studies professor, Arlene Daus-Magbual, described the program as a “home away from home.” Magbual said that these programs influence not only students but also faculty.
“A lot of the folks that we’ve had in ASPIRE as faculty really feel like it has not only impacted our students, but it has impacted them as teachers to be better engaged in the needs of our students, to understand the resources that we can provide our students,” Daus-Magbual said.
If you want to be a part of the ASPIRE community, you must be enrolled in at least one of these classes. To be an ASPIRE peer mentor, students have to be at least a junior at SF State with a 3.0 GPA.