SACRAMENTO, Calif. — At Sacramento State University, a new student center opened to focus on helping Asian Pacific Islander and Desi American students succeed. It's one of only six in the entire 26 campus California State University system.
Sacramento native and journalist Laura Ling was there for the grand opening.
"Right now, our community, the Asian American community, really has felt under attack, and so for this center to exist as a place of support and really as a symbol of hope, it is very significant," said Ling.
The new center aims to serve as a resource hub and study place for all students as well as a place for personal and professional development.
For journalists like Ling, it was diversity in her college experience that inspired her.
"It propelled me to want to pursue journalism and to like really explore other people and cultures," said Ling. "And now it is just thrilling to see what a diverse city Sacramento is, and I'm just so proud to be from Sacramento."
For Sacramento State's 6,500 students who identify as Asian Pacific Islander and Desi American (APIDA),the center also provides student support services.
Those services include financial aid, scholarships and career opportunities.
"(It's) a safe space for students to identify as APIDA; that space to build a sense of community -- that peer to peer support, and allow students to see staff and faculty that come from their backgrounds. I think that's very important," said Andrew Lee Yang, APIDA Center coordinator and student counselor.
Yang said the top three things students wanted from the new center are professional mentorship, tangible career skills and peer mentorship, which includes a sense of community building.
For Sacramento State junior and student administrative assistant at the center, Grace Matayoshi, being a part of these efforts means a lot to her sense of self.
"As an Asian American student, this is really exciting to have a center that represents me, represents my family and represents my community and is a place that we can all access and have resources for," said Matayoshi.
Organizers said the need is great.
"As a student, it's a struggle to find resources to find the help that you need, to find the guidance that you need to succeed in college and to graduate and to get the job that you want after graduation," said Matayoshi.
Phoebe Lee, program assistant with the APIDA Center, said having a community center helps fight the stigma of the "model minority" or "bamboo ceiling."
"I think that this will definitely help APIDA students to strive for more," she said.
The new center follows a trend of recent student success milestones during the tenure of President Robert Nelsen. The university has seen a 212% increase in the number of students who graduate within four years.
For more information on the APIDA Center, click HERE.