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Sefa Aina, Director of the Asian American Resource Center, Appointed to White House Advisory Commission

Sefa Aina, director of the Asian American Resource Center, with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Sefa Aina with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at a Department of Education briefing on Asian American and Pacific Islander education initiatives in May 2010.

Sefa Aina, director of the Asian American Resource Center (AARC) and associate dean of students, is being sworn in today at the White House as a new member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Aina, who has been at Pomona since 2005, is an active member of the local Pacific Islander community. He is a founding member of Pacific Islander Education and Retention (PIER), which does tutoring and mentoring for Pacific Islander youth in Carson, Long Beach and Inglewood. He is also a founding member of the National Pacific Islander Educators Network (NPIEN) and Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC).

“I feel extremely humbled and grateful for this honor,” says Aina. “A lot of the work that I've been associated with, and have probably gotten too much credit for, is the work I've done with students.  Starting at UCLA and especially here at Pomona College, through the AARC, these student's tireless efforts on behalf of the larger Asian American and Pacific Islander community motivates me to be better.”

Aina, who applied for this post, was chosen for one of 20 positions out of more than 2,500 applicants. He was encouraged to apply by a friend who had served with the first Commission under President Clinton.

While the specific goals of the commission are still being determined by the members, Aina says that overarching purpose is to “bridge the needs and issues of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community with the relevant federal agencies who are tasked with addressing those issues.”  Aina says the commission will meet at least twice a year in Washington, D.C. and probably confer remotely each month.

Prior to coming to Pomona, Aina worked as a counselor, organizational advisor and instructor at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. He graduated from UCLA with a major in history and has just begun a masters program in Asian American Studies, also at UCLA.