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The Asian American Alumni Association of Princeton (A4P), founded in 1979, is the University’s recognized affinity group for all alumni of Asian origin, covering Asian and Asian American undergraduate and graduate alumni with roots in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. All members of the Princeton community are welcome.
A4P is an important Princeton “home” for alumni of Asian origin, providing a space to celebrate accomplishments, cultural traditions, and heritage, and share stories of previously unvoiced experiences. While the organization does serve the current students, it specifically focuses on Asian and Asian American alumni. Community building among Princetonians of Asian descent must extend beyond their time on campus — we never stop being Tigers. An essential part of this mission is providing a sense of belonging to Princeton alumni, especially those who experienced painful campus exclusion and anti-Asian racism.
Providing community and opportunities to network is incredibly important to this goal. A4P has worked hard to do so. Over the summer, A4P Co-Chair and NY Regional Lead Benny Mah ’82 co-organized an amazing number of dining and networking events with students and alumni. Regional events in the Bay Area, Chicago, Houston, and Princeton area are also expanding. From July 2022 to June 2023 there were 74 in-person events in 15 cities led by 44 different organizers (excluding events during Reunions and Alumni Day).
Additionally, A4P Lunar New Year events are co-sponsored with regional alumni organizations in multiple cities, adding touchpoints with the broader Princeton alumni community of all stripes. Diwali and Holi celebrations are also growing in many regions. These gatherings are fun for sharing regional cuisines; more importantly, they draw alumni to share experiences and stories, nourishing a side that may have been set aside due to intense studies, work, and family demands.
In 2015, the University organized the first Asian and Asian American alumni conference called “We Flourish” with 700 alumni and guests attending the multi-day event. Many alumni said it was the first time that they felt like they belonged at Princeton. These events were particularly meaningful for older alumni, who attended a less tolerant and less diverse Princeton than we have today. While we cannot change alumni’s campus memories, A4P can help create new and joyful experiences.
A4P Reunions events have been a wonderful annual opportunity to see old friends and make new ones. They have also allowed us to highlight and celebrate the incredible Asian and Asian American students on campus and alumni. The Reunions Awards Ceremony recognizes the recipients of the A4P Senior Prize and the A4P Distinguished Alumni Award (DAA). Last year’s recipients were Jennifer Lee ’23, co-founder of the Asian Americans with Disabilities Initiative, activist/author Helen Zia ’73 and Elsevier CEO Youngsuk “Y.S.” Chi ’83. Recent DAA recipients also include Maria Ressa ’86 and James Yeh ’87.
Working to improve mental health is especially important in the of COVID-19 and anti-Asian hate. A4P has worked to create greater community and mental health support for Asian American alumni. While our primary focus is on alumni engagement, we include undergraduate and graduate students where possible — thus, this effort has included students on campus as well. In 2021, A4P Civic Engagement Committee co-chairs Jenny Korn ’96 and Jasmine Ueng-McHale ’97 started virtual A4P Community Hours (virtual) to build community and discuss topical subjects like anti-Asian violence. Asian student leaders were invited to present. In addition, Ueng-McHale took the lead on two virtual programs for alumni and students on mental health in 2022. Since 2014, Korn founded and has led Princeton Diversity Discussions, providing a weekly venue for discussing race-related topics, with co-sponsorship by affinity groups, regional associations, eating clubs, and Princeton classes.
While our primary focus is on alumni engagement, we include undergraduate and graduate students where possible. Alumni started the Asian American Studies (ASA) Fund in 2013 with the University administration’s support, and in 2018, Asian American Studies became a certificate program under American Studies. This year ASA has become a minor within the Effron Center for the Study of America, with Prof. Beth Lew-Williams as the recently appointed ASA Director. It is worth noting that while this has been tremendous progress, additional faculty are needed, particularly senior faculty, to meet a target of six faculty with teaching commitments in ASA.
There is tremendous diversity within our community: We have the children of immigrants who have fled economic, religious, or political oppression as well as children with grandparents who went to Ivy League schools. Some speak their family languages fluently, some started to learn when they came to Princeton and had an opportunity to learn more about Asians in America. In the 1970s, most Asian and Asian American students were in STEM topics, but now, their majors have expanded into humanities, SPIA, and Romance languages, to name a few.
As students leave the Orange Bubble, we want to emphasize that support and community do not end with graduation — they will only keep expanding. We are here to support and be a resource for Asian and Asian American alumni, and to continue advocating for them in the future.
Nancy Lin ’77 S76 P10 is a Co-Chair of the Asian American Alumni Association of Princeton (A4P) and Co-President of the Class of 1977. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Arati Johnston ’84 P15 P20 is the Vice-Chair of the Asian American Alumni Association of Princeton (A4P), President of the Princeton Club of Philadelphia, Alumni Schools Committee (ASC) Co-Chair, Philadelphia Region, and Past Chair of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.