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Celebrating Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Celebrating Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month began as a seven-day celebration in May — signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in 1978. Annual presidential proclamations were passed, leading to the eventual month-long observance being passed in 1990.

Photo of Mi Ja Kim with Laurie Quinn
Mi Ja Kim (right) with Laurie Quinn, PhD, RN, recipient of the first Kim Award

This month, UI Health is celebrating the rich history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders within our healthcare community, from historical contributors to current generations of professionals. Mi Ja Kim, the founder of the Global Korean Nursing Foundation, served as UIC's vice chancellor for research and as dean of the College of Nursing. She received her PhD in physiology from UIC and established the Dr. Mi Ja Kim Endowed Faculty Research Award, providing the initial gift. Kim was also recognized as a Living Legend by the Academy of Nursing in 2012.

Some members of the AAPI and UI Health communities share their experiences and thoughts related to AAPI history through employee spotlights. Dr. Janet Lin reflects on the diversity of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, stating, "Asians are not a homogenous race. There is no one way to accurately categorize us. AAPIs have achieved accomplishments that may be considered impressive to others but also persevered often in unimaginable ways to survive and have a chance at life. A Chinese person is different from a Korean, Filipino, Japanese, or Indian; but there are also distinctions between Chinese Americans, Chinese Peruvians, and Chinese Australians. It is a celebration of diversity."

Melissa Angulo, a nurse practitioner, shares her hopes for cultural celebrations at UI Health. "Being an Asian American is a part of who I am, similarly to many other Asian Americans here at UI Health — so it is always exciting when a culture you identify with is being celebrated and recognized.  My hope is that celebrating different cultures will foster awareness and curiosity at UI Health."
Gia Mac, senior director of Graduate Medical Education, expands on the celebration of diversity and notes that, "As we celebrate and reflect on AAPI Heritage Month, I would love for everyone to celebrate, respect, and enjoy our differences. Our differences add to the beautiful color pallet of life."

UI Health is invested in celebrating, recognizing, and promoting diversity. Join us as we pay tribute to the sacrifices, achievements, and contributions made by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Bishan Nandy, director of Project Coordination Services, echoes the above statement, saying, "UI Health has been very much invested in promoting diversity and inclusiveness across all aspects of its operation. I hope to see continued engagement from all employees to drive and support these initiatives. The basic awareness and training about health equity, diversity, and inclusiveness can help our staff and providers to better care for our patients and communities based on their unique needs."

Visit Celebrate.UIHealth.Care to learn more about AAPI Heritage Month and to read employee spotlights.