Last night, Nelson Lo (junior-finance) and Usha Nair (sophomore-secondary education) were crowned Mr. and Ms. Asian Penn State.
The 9th annual event held in HUB Heritage Hall sponsored by alpha Kappa Delta Phi and Lambda Phi Epsilon attracted more than a hundred students to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month at Penn State.
Pageant coordinator Nancy Chen, alpha Kappa Delta Phi member, said the main purpose of the event was to acknowledge students in the Asian community who serve and represent the community.
Lo said, as a member of Asian Pacific American Coalition and Lambda Phi Epsilon president, he felt he was an asset to the Asian community. As an active member in both organizations, he has participated in Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, a bone marrow drive and the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.
During the contest, Lo said if he were chosen to be Mr. Asian Penn State, he would continue giving back to Penn State.
"I would maintain the trend I'm going on," Lo said.
Nair said her involvement as a member of the Indian Student Association, alpha Kappa Delta Phi and the Multicultural Greek Council executive council has allowed her to become active in community service on campus.
"There is and can be unity in the Asian community," Nair said.
One of her goals was to increase the representation of Asians at Penn State in the media and in pamphlets to create a welcoming environment for incoming Asian students. Although the Asian community makes up a small percentage of the university, the community is an integral part to the campus, Nair said.
"Being Asian is a beautiful thing," Nair added.
During a formal question and answer period, the contestants were able to voice the issues the Asian community faces and the goals they hoped to pursue to break social barriers.
Lo said the biggest problem facing the Asian community today is apathy. Lo said the Asian community is not recognized in today's society, especially in the media.
To gain recognition and political power, the community must be active and have a voice, he added.
"We sit here and let it happen," Lo said. "We don't get a voice out when there are issues that concern us."
Nair agreed that there is a great need for a more diverse curriculum on campus. By learning about different cultures, including the Asian culture, Nair said, the campus can foster an awareness of diversity on campus.
Ms. Asian Penn State runner-up Angela Yang (sophomore-mathematics) said affirmative action is not a racial issue. She said if affirmative action works for now, then it is the most beneficial way.
One of the two runners-up Mr. Asian Penn State, Tien Hong (sophomore-economics), said to overcome its "exclusive" stereotype, the Asian community has to educate and spread awareness of the perception.
The other Mr. Asian Penn State runner-up, Christopher Chin (junior-accounting), said it was important to have a Mr. and Ms. Asian Penn State aside from Mr. and Ms. Penn State. Chin said the Asian community represents only 6 percent of the Penn State campus. "We need our voice heard," Chin said. "We need someone to represent us."
This year, nine contestants competed for Mr. And Ms. Asian Penn State.