Beyond Heritage Month:
Supporting and Empowering Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Communities as Campuses Reopen

Strive to end anti-Asian hate crimes through consistent and meaningful support for your APIDA community.


Institutions across the United States host a variety of programs and events throughout the month of May in recognition of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month. This month-long recognition serves to honor and celebrate the rich histories, achievements, and contributions of APIDA communities while also providing an opportunity to shine light on the very real hardships they are facing today. According to a recent study from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University San Bernardino, the number of reported anti-Asian hate crimes in the nation’s largest cities and counties has increased by 164% since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Many fear that these numbers will continue to rise as more campuses and businesses reopen in the coming months. This begs the question: How can we reach beyond heritage month to actively support and empower APIDA communities at our institutions year-round?

Join us for a two and a half-hour collaborative session during which we will explore this question together. Through a combination of panel discussion, individual reflection, and collaborative activities, you will leave this session with:

  • a deeper understanding of the diverse groups being represented under the APIDA umbrella.
  • examples of current efforts some institutions are taking to better support and empower these communities.
  • a list of questions, ideas, and strategies generated by your peers to help you as you move this work forward on your campus.


Throughout this two and a half-hour virtual workshop, our expert facilitators will lead us through a combination of discussion, individual reflection, and collaborative activities to share best practices and generate new ideas to better support APIDA communities in academia. We will achieve this in three steps:

    • Build Awareness: Where have we been?

      To set the stage for our time together, we will learn a bit about each of our facilitators and the roles they have played in supporting and empowering APIDA students, staff, and/or faculty on their campuses. We will take a closer look at the term “APIDA,” data around the diverse communities it represents, and why this conversation is critical.

    • Examine and Reflect: Where are we now?

      What does this mean for APIDAs as we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic and more people return to campus? We will explore the realities facing APIDA students, faculty, and staff members today and take time to individually reflect on what your campus is currently doing well in supporting these groups, as well as identifying areas for improvement.

    • Take Action: Where can we go?

      What can you do today to begin making your institution more inclusive and supportive of all APIDA community members moving forward? We will work together to curate a list of questions to ask, ideas to share, and strategies to implement as you work to move the needle at your school.


Portrait of Smita Ruzicka

Smita Ruzicka
Dean of Student Life, Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Smita Ruzicka serves as Dean of Student Life at Johns Hopkins University, where she provides leadership for a wide portfolio of services and programs aimed to enhance the overall student experience. Her portfolio includes student leadership and involvement, diversity and inclusion, health and wellness, residential life, crisis management and support services. She has over 15 years of experience in higher education, having served in leadership roles at Tulane University and The University of Texas at Austin prior to arriving to JHU in 2018.

Portrait of Naomi SIgg

Naomi Sigg
Director, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Case Western Reserve University

Naomi plays a major role in the development of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives on campus. She serves as the Co-Chair of the Student Life Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, founding member of the APIDA Task Force, and serves on several university committees including the Diversity Leadership Council, the President’s Advisory Council on Minorities, and Alianza Latina/Latino Alliance, the Latinx employee resource group. Naomi is a certified Green Dot Facilitator, Sustained Dialogue Moderator, and recently completed a Certificate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace.

Portrait of Tedd Vanadilok

Tedd Vanadilok
Director of the Center for Student Involvement, Santa Clara University

The Center for Student Involvement provides opportunities for students to explore leadership opportunities, try new experiences, continue pursuing current interests, gain valuable skills, learn about themselves, and meet others. In his role within the center, Tedd is responsible for staffing, strategic planning, budgets, risk management, contracts, and policies. He is also the advisor to the Associated Student Government (ASG).

For more information about this webcast, please visit us on Academic Impressions’ website.