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The Fourth Annual Asian-American Awareness Conference, which will be held this weekend, has a new twist this year. The first-ever Mr. and Ms. Asian Penn State will be chosen by a vote to raise funds for Asian-Americans United.

The contest is sponsored by Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Kappa Delta Phi sorority, both social/service Asian-American interest organizations.

Lara Menjares (senior-psychology), a founding member of Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, said the new program was started in order to gain more recognition for Asian-Americans at the University.

"This is a chance for Asian-Americans on campus to show our existence here, to increase our voice," she said.

Menjares also said the program will gain recognition for the University in Pennsylvania's Asian-American community because this is the first time a University Asian-American organization has sponsored a philanthropy.

Twelve men and 14 women were nominated by other students or themselves for the title. Votes can be cast by dropping money into a cup belonging to the nominee of a voter's choice. The nominees who receive the most money in their cups by the end of this week will become the first Mr. and Ms. Asian Penn State.

Rushmi Sinha (junior-chemical engineering), also a member of Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, said although she is not sure how much money to expect because this is the first year of the contest, sponsors hope to raise about $10 per nominee so that they can donate about $250.

Caroline Chiang (freshman-business), a nominee for Ms. Asian Penn State, said she is involved because it is a good philanthropy.

"It's not really important for me to be Ms. Asian Penn State, but it's for a great cause," Chiang said.

AAU is a social/service organization based in Philadelphia that deals with education reform, anti-Asian violence, mentor programs and workshops for young Asian-Americans.

Votes will be accepted at a table on the ground floor of the HUB from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and tomorrow and the night of the conference. The winners will be announced at a slide show on Saturday night.

Other events taking place during the conference this weekend include a dinner, dance, fashion show and several programs, including "Separatism at Penn State" and "Relationships with an Asian Twist."