Link/ Often Ignored, Pacific Islanders Fight for Academic Success On Their Own - New America Media

LONG BEACH — Kulia I Ka Nu’u. This was the motto of Hawaii’s Queen Kapi’olani, one she told her people, which means, “Strive for the very top of the mountain; strive for excellence.” It’s a message that still has relevance for the U.S.-based Pacific Islander community that more often than not is left to overcome challenges on its own.

For years Pacific Islanders from Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga and Guam have been misunderstood in the U.S., due in no small part to their inclusion under the umbrella term Asian Pacific Islander (API). With use of the term becoming widespread since the 1990’s, the specific struggles faced by the Islander community have been obscured. Lumped together with other Asians and stereotyped as a model minority, Pacific Islander issues have been left out, for example, of the national discourse on education.

Read the full article.

This article also references a piece written by Kawika Riley, CEO and Founder of the Pacific Islander Access project (who happens to be one of our amazing guest bloggers)!

(Shout out to APIASF/GMS Scholar Sadia Arshad for sharing this article with us!)

Changes needed to close diploma gap for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders

By Kawika Riley, CEO and Founder, Pacific Islander Access project

Aloha! Considering June’s theme of educational equity, I wanted to address one misperception about the diploma gap between Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders vs. the general U.S. population:

Myth: Because Pacific Islander educational attainment is increasing, they will close the diploma gap in no time.

Reality: Pacific Islanders are roughly as underrepresented among college graduates today as they were twenty years ago. 

I wish that the diploma gap was on its way to fixing itself, but that’s just not true. In 1990, the U.S. Census found that Pacific Islanders were 45 percent less likely to hold a 4-year-degree than the general population. Twenty years later, the Census reported in 2010 that the figure had changed to 46 percent.

So while the percentage of Pacific Islanders earning degrees is increasing (and I’m happy about that), that increase isn’t nearly enough to close the gaping gap between Pacific Islander educational attainment and the same rates for the general population. 

To see more of the stats, links to our sources, and a graph that probably says it better than I do, please visit the Pacific Islander Access project blog.

#repEdEquity Spotlight: Pacific Islander Access (PIA) Project

The Pacific Islander Access (PIA) project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to mitigating the underrepresentation of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) in higher education. NHPIs are often overlooked for resources due to a lack of disaggregated data that would provide a more accurate portrait of the AAPI population. Although NHPIs are actually underrepresented in higher education, their inclusion under the umbrella category of AAPI can be problematic since the general AAPI community is often not perceived as underrepresented.

The PIA project was founded with the purpose of raising public awareness about America’s growing Pacific Islander community and their distinction as a separate ethnic group within the AAPI community. In addition, this organization supports educational equity by advocating for and sharing resources that can benefit NHPI students. For more information, check out these posts written by Kawika Riley, CEO and Founder of the PIA project.

What other organizations or resources are worth noting for their dedication to advancing educational equity?

#repScholarships: Working with Underrepresented Minority Scholarships to Provide Access to Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders

By Kawika Riley, CEO and Founder, Pacific Islander Access project

Aloha!

Two months ago, I blogged to you about how the Pacific Islander Access project had just finished a national study on whether underrepresented minority scholarships and fellowships recognized that Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in higher education.

Those results, which are available in detail here, were somewhat grim: despite decades of data confirming that Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in higher education, only 28 percent of the programs in our sample included Pacific Islanders in their definition of underrepresented.

Why does this matter? Because when a scholarship is limited to “underrepresented minorities” but it excludes Pacific Islanders, who are an underrepresented minority, they can’t even apply.

This is bad for the scholarship program (they are preventing themselves from reaching out to part of the population they meant to serve) and it’s clearly bad for America’s growing Pacific Islander community.

We were excited to complete this project, because if you’re going to solve a problem, it helps to understand it.

But completing a study that shares bad news isn’t enough — our nonprofit was founded to expanding higher educational opportunities for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.

Given this month’s theme of #repScholarships, we thought it was time to give you an update about these important scholarships and fellowship.

Read More

National Study on Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander Eligibility for Underrepresented Minority Scholarships and Fellowships

By Kawika Riley, CEO and Founder, Pacific Islander Access project

We all know what it’s like to be mistaken for something that we’re not. When this happens in our personal lives, it’s usually just an annoyance or frustration. But for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders who are denied the ability to apply to underrepresented minority scholarships — even though they’re underrepresented — it can mean losing the ability to pay for college, fulfill their potential, or get the support they need to graduate.

I learned about this problem firsthand as a college student, when I was told by a well-intentioned executive at an underrepresented minority scholars program that while Native Hawaiians may be underrepresented in higher education, her program couldn’t allow me to apply as an underrepresented minority. Why not? Because Native Hawaiians are Pacific Islanders… and Pacific Islanders are Asian Pacific Islanders… and as a group, Asian Pacific Islanders are not underrepresented.

With a bit of research and a lot of help from U.S. Senators Daniel Akaka and Ted Kennedy, that program changed its ways. Still, it made me wonder how many other well-intended underrepresented minority programs were making the same mistake, despite the fact that the U.S. Census has produced decades worth of data demonstrating that Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in higher education.

I did a year-long research project to answer that question in 2004.  This year, as part of the Pacific Islander Access project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, I asked the same questions.

Want to know what we found out?  We wrote about it here.

- Kawika

Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are underrepresented in higher education, but they’re excluded from applying to most academic programs for underrepresented minorities. Kawika Riley is the CEO and Founder of the Pacific Islander Access project: a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation dedicated to fixing that problem, and raising public awareness about America’s growing Pacific Islander community. His work experiences include being a congressional aide, college faculty, spokesman for a federal counterterrorism agency, and an advocate for Native Hawaiians, but he runs the Pacific Islander Access project on a volunteer basis (in other words, he does that for free).