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APIDA College Day attracts a full house of visiting students looking toward their higher education

CSU Trustee Wenda Fong speaks to students and others assembed in the University Union Ballroom on March 1 during the sixth annual APIDA College Day. During the event, Asian Pacific Islander Desi American middle school, high school and community college students learned about admissions and financial aid, as well as the support and resources offered at Sac State. (Sacramento State/Analy Carillo)

It was standing room only at Sacramento State’s sixth annual Asian Pacific Islander Desi American College Day.

More than 1,300 middle school, high school, and community college students from throughout Northern California filled the University Union Ballroom on March 1 to learn about the college admissions process, financial aid, the value of higher education, and the high level of support the University offers.

“I look out at this room, and I’m excited because I see just beautiful people and diversity, the best of what Sacramento brings,” Sac State President Luke Wood said.

“You can come here, and you can see people who look like you and understand you and are rooting for you to succeed.”

The daylong event included guest speakers such as CSU Board of Trustees Chair Wenda Fong and California Treasurer Fiona Ma, as well as workshops about the admissions process and financial aid.

Students also toured the campus and attended a resource fair with tables from the various fields of study available at Sac State.

President Luke Wood on a stage, speaking to APIDA College Day attendees.
Sac State President Luke Wood told APIDA College Day attendees that "(y)ou can come (to Sac State), and you can see people who look like you and understand you and are rooting for you to succeed.” More than 1,300 students and others attended the event. (Sacramento State/Analy Carillo)

APIDA College Day is modeled after similar Sac State events, such as Black Expo and Feria de Educación, that are aimed at promoting early awareness of college for students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Sac State has been designated as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) by the U.S. Department of Education since 2011. 

More than 7,200 Sacramento State students identify as Asian Pacific Islander Desi American, about 22% of the student population.

In addition to the Full Circle Project, which offers academic support and leadership activities for Asian Pacific Islander students, the University’s APIDA Center recently celebrated its first anniversary.

“Asians are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the Sacramento region,” said Chao Vang, assistant vice president of Education Equity Programs and Student Success. “It is important that our programs reflect our community.

“Sacramento State is an institution where students in our community can realize the American dream of a higher education. They can stay here, study here, work here, and play here.”

APIDA College Day started in 2019 to reach out to prospective Asian American students and expose them to college and what Sac State has to offer, Vang said.

“The first year we had around 500 students, and since then the event has grown to where we’re now at capacity,” he said.

“In Northern California, it is safe to say that this event is one of the largest pan-Asian outreach events, and we’re very proud that Sacramento State is leading this effort to serve as a model for other universities.”

This year’s APIDA College Day participants represented 35 schools, including community colleges as far away as Napa and Santa Clara.

Less than 24 hours before the event, students were still registering to attend.

“This is an amazing college,” Foothill High School junior Zahra Aryoubi, 17, said. “I’m really impressed with this university.”

Aryoubi, who wants to study computer science, said she did not know anything about the admissions process or that she could qualify for financial aid.

“It really helped me a lot. I didn’t have any idea which colleges I should apply to, or how to transfer or get financial aid,” she said. “I really learned a lot. I think I’m going to apply to Sac State.”

McClatchy High School science teacher Derek Ho said he brings students to APIDA College Day every year. They were particularly interested in hearing from Fong, the CSU board chair, who is a Sacramento native and McClatchy graduate.

“It’s important to help our youth understand the benefits and challenges of going to college, especially for students who are underserved,” Ho said. “They’re excited to hear from an alumnus and see people that look and act like them, who have similar backgrounds, become successful at college.”

CSU Trustee Wenda Fong and State Treasurer Fiona Ma sitting on a stage, speaking to APIDA College Day attendees.
CSU Trustee Wenda Fong, left, and California Treasurer Fiona Ma were among the speakers at APIDA College Day. McClatchy High School science teacher Derek Ho said it was important for attendees to "see people that look and act like them, who have similar backgrounds, become successful at college." (Sacramento State/Analy Carillo)

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About Jennifer K. Morita

Jennifer K. Morita joined Sacramento State in 2022. A former newspaper reporter for the Sacramento Bee, she spent several years juggling freelance writing with being a mom. When she isn’t chauffeuring her two daughters, she enjoys reading mysteries, experimenting with recipes, and Zumba.

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