The University of New Mexico’s campus community is invited to celebrate the official ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house of the Asian American Pacific Islander Resource Center (AAPIRC). The event begins Thursday, April 28 at 2 p.m. at the White Fountain located east of the SUB Mall with the ribbon cutting commemorating the opening of the Asian American Pacific Islander Resource Center.

Several speakers will highlight the event including UNM President Garnett S. Stokes, Student Regent Randy Ko, Associate Professor of Communications Shinsuke Eguchi and State Representative Kay Bounkeua, New Mexico’s first Asian American State Representative. Farah Nousheen, who was recently named associate director of AAPIRC, will emcee the event. Founding students, Emma Hotz, Jacob Olaguir, and Irene Sananoue will cut the ribbon.

Following the ribbon-cutting, the festivities move into Education Classroom 212 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. for student tabling and testimonials where attendees will be able to meet and get to know Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) students and organizations. The designation “AAPI” represents numerous nationalities and ethnic groups, including the Pacific Islands, East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Central Asia. Since 9/11, many AAPI organizations, including AAPIRC, have also been serving Arab Americans. UNM AAPI students will speak about their connection to AAPIRC and its importance on campus. Light refreshments from Asian-owned restaurants will be provided courtesy of the Asian Business Collaborative.

This event kicks off Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May.

“We are so excited to celebrate the AAPIRC’s establishment at UNM,” said Farah Nousheen. “We would like the support of the UNM community to help celebrate this historic moment.”

Asian American Pacific Islander Resource Center was established during the 2021-2022 academic year. A student-led initiative helped to create a home and resource center for students of AAPI heritage during their studies at UNM. AAPIRC will provide culturally relevant programs and academic support that will cultivate AAPI student leaders within the UNM campus community.

“Foremost, AAPIRC is a space that aims to foster belonging for AAPI students. Some of our services include advisement, a study space, a meeting space for student organizations, and an annual graduation for AAPI students. We will also host a variety of cultural and educational events,” said Nousheen. “Additionally, we are planning programs in collaboration with other student centers and departments on campus as well as Albuquerque community organizations. It is important to create opportunities for mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being for students. We plan to provide Asian-rooted wellness practices such as yoga, meditation, and qi gong led by AAPI instructors.”

Nousheen provides holistic support in areas such as navigating UNM, scheduling classes, identifying scholarship opportunities, and getting involved in the AAPI community on campus.

The center is modeled to serve a similar purpose to current existing centers including American Indian Student Services, African American Student Services, El Centro de la Raza, LGBTQ+ Resource Center, Women’s Resource Center, and Veterans Military Resource Center. The center came to fruition after students formally requested funds from the Student Fee Review Board (SFRB) last year.

UNM AAPIRC is a unit under the College Enrichment and Outreach Programs (CEOP), allowing for a physical space for staff and students. The collaboration also allows for the sharing of services including budgeting, accounting, equipment, and computer access. CEOP promotes and develops opportunities and enrichment activities to help facilitate the educational and personal growth of students who participate in its programs. It accomplishes these goals through its own organized activities as well as collaborative efforts involving other departments within Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and other offices throughout the campus.

“Like other ethnic cultural centers, AAPIRC is an initiative led by students,” said Nousheen. “We must always acknowledge and remember that students and student organizations have put so much of their time and effort into bringing their need to the UNM administration. I am always amazed by the sacrifices students of color make for their communities while pursuing their education and on top of all their other responsibilities. At key historic moments, students of color often become leaders of institutional change in universities. AAPIRC is being established during a global pandemic that has revealed anti-Asian racism here in New Mexico as well as in other parts of the United States. AAPIRC will help all of us contend with that.”

For more information, visit UNM AAPIRC.