The ASPIRE Team
Hong Mei is one of the ASPIRE Community Organizer. She spent several years in New York City where she graduated from The New School and cultivated a strong passion for community organizing. As an undocumented API youth, she has been actively involved in community organizing and is a co-founder, member and previously the Lead Organizer at Revolutionizing Asian American Immigrant Stories on the East Coast (RAISE), affiliated with Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. She has also worked with Damayan Migrant Workers’ Association and their youth program, serving Filipino children and youth whose parents are domestic workers and trafficking survivors.
Akiko is currently one of the Community Organizers with ASPIRE. Akiko first joined ASPIRE in fall 2011 to be in community with other API undocumented immigrants, challenge the mainstream view of immigration, and pass pro-immigrant policies. In spite of the complexities and hardships she faced as an undocumented youth, she graduated summa cum laude from San Francisco State University with a B.S. in Nursing and a minor in Japanese. Akiko aspires to be a nurse who works with the community to develop public policies and programs that promote their physical health, mental health, and livelihood. Just as ASPIRE continues to help her overcome her obstacles, she is committed to engage and build with the undocumented API community. In her free time, Akiko can be found painting, writing poetry, and singing.
Putri came from Indonesia when she was 11 years old. She graduated from Lowell High School and has transferred from Diablo Valley College to UC Berkeley, where she will be graduating in December of 2015. She is planning to pursue a career in medical field while continuing her passion in advocacy. She is currently involved in the Asian Pacific American Student Development and Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education at UC Berkeley, and is one of the core leaders for ASPIRE. Putri was also an outreach ambassador for Educators for Fair Consideration and a participant for UCLA Labor Center’s Dream Summer. After being able to return to Indonesia with advance parole in the Summer of 2014, she is motivated to continue fighting for immigrant rights for her parents, her family, and her community.
Beatrice is currently one of ASPIRE’s Core Leaders. She was born in Canada, where her Filipina mother and Salvadoran father met. Her family came to the U.S. when she was 4 years old and she has lived most of her life as an undocumented immigrant in Oakland, CA. She has attended all of her schooling in Oakland and currently attends Laney College majoring in Graphic Design. Beatrice is an emerging artivist and immigrant rights leader who uses her illustration skills to give a voice to the struggles of undocumented Asian and Pacific Islander students. “I’ve learned that where there is oppression, there is also resistance. I will utilize the stories I have experienced to inform the public of our struggles, our history, and our continuing power to overcome injustice.”
Wei Lee was born and raised in Brazil, but he is ethnically Chinese. When he was 16 years old, he immigrated to the U.S. with his whole family to reunite with the rest of his family and to flee persecution. Him and his family fell out of immigration status after being denied political asylum and almost faced deportation. However, being undocumented did not stop him from going to college. He graduated from UC Santa Cruz in the Summer of 2011 with a Bachelor degree in Psychology. While at UCSC, Wei also interned at the Asian American/ Pacific Islander Resource Center. He is a proud member of ASPIRE and was an Eva Lowe Fellow for the Chinese Progressive Association for the summer of 2013.
New emigrated from Thailand to the Bay Area when he was nine years old and graduated from UC Berkeley, in Molecular & Cellular Biology. Outside of the classroom, he has been an immigrant rights activist as the first co-chair of ASPIRE (Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education) at Asian Law Caucus, as a New American Scholar of Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC), a non-profit organization supporting students in higher education, and within the campus community—advocating for various policies and sharing his personal story to increase visibility of API communities within & reframe the public’s perception around the immigration conversation. 2 years ago, he co-founded Pre-Health Dreamers to serve as a community, resource, and advocate for all undocumented students pursuing their dreams in the health and sciences. As a current medical student at University of California, San Francisco in the Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved (PRIME-US), New aims to become a physician who practices medicine through a public health lens, using primary care, research, and policy to shape health for the individual and the community.
May is an undocumented immigrant from China. Her family arrived to the United States when she was 6 years old and became undocumented in high school when her family’s second application for permanent residency was denied. She recently graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees in Integrative Biology and Theater and Performance Studies. She hopes to continue advocating through culture and art. Her dream is to become a professional storyteller by writing and directing theater, TV, and/or film.
Ju Hong came to the United States from South Korea at the age of 11 and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2012, Ju graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Political Science. Currently, Ju is a student in the Master’s program in Public Administration at San Francisco State University. After he graduate from the program, he hopes to continue to support underprivileged immigrant communities through public service.
Emmanuel Valenciano came to the US with a tourist visa when he was 13 years old back in 2002. He is currently attending San Francisco State University majoring in Biology. He hopes to be a researcher in the future, particularly in the field of studying Cancer. His inspiration to be involved in the movement to pass Immigration Reform does not only stem from personal experiences, but also from the experiences of fellow Dreamers and the support of people around
Dean was born in the Philippines. He arrived in the United States with his mother at the age of 12. While in high school, Dean was unsure as to whether college would be a possibility for him. It wasn’t until his senior year that he discovered that college was, in fact, a possibility. After graduating from Capuchino High School, Dean went on to Skyline College. At Skyline, Dean was recruited by his journalism instructor to serve as a staff writer for the Skyline View- where he quickly became a well-known and award-winning photojournalist. He was also elected as a Council Senator for the Associated Students of Skyline College where he focused on immigrant rights issues and fighting the budget cuts. Dean graduated with a political science degree at Notre Dame de Namur University. He served as ASPIRE’s Core Member and is the current ASPIRE steering committee representative for CIYJA.