UNLV expands Asian American and Pacific Islander studies thanks to grant

UNLV expands Asian American and Pacific Islander studies thanks to grant

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Seven years in the making, a new grant has allowed Dr. Mark Padoongpatt to bring the Neon Pacific initiative to UNLV.

As the director of Asian and American studies at UNLV, he said this is part of a new program that will expand Asian American education through classes, internships, and more.

The funding is all thanks to the Mellon Foundation bringing in $800,000 over the next 3 years.

“This is about understanding the human condition through Asian American and Pacific Islanders,” Dr. Padoongpatt explained. “So we talk about issues like immigration and race, place-making, racial violence.”

Not only does this elevate UNLV’s curriculum when it comes to AAPI studies, but it’s also a chance to connect with the community as the Asian population has grown in the last several years.

“More specifically, it’s supporting research and teaching that is interdisciplinary and space-based so the Mellon Foundation really wants us to tell more stories about Asian Americans here in Vegas,” Dr. Padoongpatt said. “How does Las Vegas as a place shape the Asian American Pacific Islander as an experience?”

Ava Carino said she is excited to see these efforts finally pay off and for those involved to get the recognition they deserve.

“The most challenging part has always been exposure,” Carino said. “It’s always been just trying to let students know we’re here, to let students know we do have these classes available.”

It’s all about showcasing Asian and Pacific Islander culture, food, sports, and how Asians and Pacific Islanders have learned to thrive and adapt in our city.

Jacques Milan is looking forward to collaborating with everyone on this team as it’s his first time being part of a research group.

“I think what I want them to know is the issues that are present, that not a lot of people really understand or know how to grasp,” Milan said.

Dr. Padoongpatt said this is just the start of serving and appealing to a bigger community.

“I think for me, we want everyone to know that it’s not just about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders like oh that’s great for you all to study about yourselves, this is really for all of us,” Dr. Padoongpatt said.

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