Asian and Pacific Islander American #DreamSpeakers share their perspectives as we celebrate APAHM

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month which presents an opportunity to celebrate Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched American history for generations. At DreamWakers, we seek to amplify the diverse voices of professional role models in order to learn from their experiences, and this month we are highlighting the stories of Asian and Pacific Islander American DreamSpeakers!

We are grateful to all mentors who volunteered their time to share thoughts on representation, biculturalism, and diversity in the workplace for our regularly streamed series, DreamWakers Daily: Career Conversations from Home, and highlight five speakers in this post:


The Role of Representation

For many of these DreamSpeakers, representation was not prevalent when they were young. Dr. Kosaki grew up going to the beach frequently, with fishing, diving, and spearfishing as his primary hobbies. When asked if this is where he dreamed he would end up, Dr. Kosaki says:

Dr. Kosaki is now passionate about reaching Native Hawaiian students and encouraging them to pursue career paths that interest them. Dr. Taparra has a similar story. He never had any intention of entering a field of science or medicine. He shares:

Now, Dr. Taparra’s dream is to care for patients with cancer in the greater Pacific while also encouraging the next generation of Native Hawaiians to pursue careers in the biomedical sciences.

Diana Clough is a first-generation college graduate who spent years figuring out her path. For her, representation is massively important:

Diana’s dream is to create an environment where everyone, anywhere, within her global company feels like it is the best place they have ever worked.

For Randall, Kekoa, and Diana, representation meant validation and the feeling of being seen. Each of them wants to ensure that the next generation of young Asian and Pacific Islander Americans know that they are capable of pursuing their dreams.


Bicultural Identities

Many Americans possess two distinct cultural identities within themselves, posing unique challenges to understanding identity. Our DreamSpeakers talked about the importance of embracing the culture and traditions that make you who you are, all in pursuit of being your authentic self.

For Gretel Truong, biculturalism has served her well throughout her life and career:

Gretel believes in the power of storytelling to create action for change, and through her work, she has collaborated with multiple world leaders and youth activists, lead digital advocacy initiatives in over 50 countries. The ability to have meaningful conversations and share the stories of others is hugely important to the work Gretel does today.

Coming to understand bicultural identity is a personal journey that each of these speakers processed in different ways. Hear directly from Diana Clough, Dr. Kekoa Taparra, and Gretel Truong about the way culture has impacted their lives.


Diversity in the Workplace

Workplace diversity refers to the employment of a workforce from a variety of different backgrounds including race, gender, religion, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education level, and more. Employing diverse individuals can bring valuable and unique perspectives to an organization.

Dr. Taparra highlighted the importance of diversity in all spaces, including healthcare. He shared that Native Hawaiians represent less than half of one percent of people in the medical field, which can have a tangible impact on patient health. He told us:

“More research studies are coming out on how when we are able to connect as physicians to our patients, we can actually have better outcomes for our patients.[…] The instant bond you have when you’re able to share a certain culture together can really make a difference between a patient and physician.”

Nadia Hasan shared her experience as both a woman in the workplace and a woman of color, highlighting the importance of diversity in all its forms:

When it comes to representation, embracing a bicultural identity, and striving for diverse workplaces, it all comes down to an acceptance of ourselves and others. This Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we are grateful for the opportunity to listen to the stories of these inspiring professionals. Each of these role models shared the way their history has shaped them to become who they are and has committed to using their experiences to pave the way for the next generation.


You can watch full conversations with each of these career role models on YouTube or on our Facebook Page.

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