Throughout Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI), Austin Community College (ACC) sits down with influential and accomplished faculty and staff to discuss what the month means to them.

To view AAPI activities, talks, and workshops happening at the college throughout the month, visit austincc.edu/aapi.

Lam Lynn Lau

Lam Lynn Lau is the director of ACC’s Asian American & Pacific Island Cultural Center, and she also is an adjunct professor of Chinese. She started working at ACC in 2006.

Why do you work at ACC?
I love the diverse learning environment at ACC. The opportunities to work with students, faculty, and staff members from different identity dimensions are invaluable. I can share my knowledge with others and add value to their lives, and at the same time, the lessons I learn every day at ACC continue to help me grow and become a better person.

What is one personal or professional accomplishment you are most proud of?
I first came to the U.S. as an international student with an F1 visa and two suitcases full of clothes that later did not survive the shrinking power of the American dryers. I still recall those days with very few social connections, living on a very limited budget, and riding a bike through six inches of snow in Wisconsin. Looking back, the thing I am most proud of is getting to where I am today with hard work and perseverance.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
If someone gives you an opportunity, take it and prove to them that you’re worthy.

Why do you believe it’s important for the college to commemorate Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month?
The rapidly growing AAPI members at ACC present an urgent need to increase cultural awareness of the AAPI community to expand understanding and promote collaboration and connection among students, faculty, and staff members of all ethnicities. 

What is your heritage and what is your favorite way to celebrate it?
I was born in China and grew up in Hong Kong. Like many AAPI members, my favorite way to celebrate my heritage is with food. I consider myself a foodie and enjoy many kinds of Asian cuisines. I have had numerous dumpling-making parties and hotpot dinners at home with my friends, students, and neighbors.

What advice would you give to our Asian American & Pacific Islander students?
If you have an idea or opinion, share it. If you feel offended, speak up. Because if you don’t say something, people will not know.


Mison Zuniga

Mison Zuniga is the interim associate vice chancellor of the Office of College and High School Relations. Her previous position was High School Programs Enrollment & Partnerships director.

When did you start working at ACC?
I started my career at ACC as an hourly student services assistant in 1991 while completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin. It was this position that shaped my desire to help students obtain access and support for higher education.

Why do you work at ACC?
As a first-generation immigrant and college graduate, it is important for me to help students that don’t have support at home to pursue and persist in higher education. ACC provides both academic pathways and, more importantly, workforce pathways that truly launch students into the workforce with the skills and training to skip entry-level positions. There are so many opportunities for students to earn and continue to learn — changing one student and one family at a time.  

What is one personal or professional accomplishment you are most proud of?
In spring 2020, as the world transitioned to quarantine and remote work and learning, I completed my master’s degree in Higher Education Administration.

What is the most valuable life lesson you’ve learned?
Throughout my career and my own experience in education, the most valuable life lesson I have learned is to allow oneself to make mistakes. It’s the lessons learned from those mistakes that build character and drive success, both personally and professionally.

Why do you believe it’s important for the college to commemorate Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month?
We live in a city and nation where the AAPI community continues to grow; it’s important for the college to celebrate and acknowledge the great work and contributions of this community.

What is your heritage and what is your favorite way to celebrate it?
I was born in South Korea and my favorite way to celebrate my heritage is through its delicious foods and loyalty to family.

What advice would you give to our Asian American & Pacific Islander students?
My advice to my fellow Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders is not to be so hard on themselves, and that support is readily available. ACC has a wealth of support, so reach out and get it.


Janie Wang

Janie Wang is a clinical counselor who started working at ACC in May 2009.

Why do you work at ACC?
I love being a part of the mission of ACC to promote student success and community development through affordable higher education — especially as a member of the Student Affairs Clinical Counseling Team. We provide free and accessible mental health resources to support students’ resilience and persistence toward their personal, educational, and career goals. It is such an honor to be part of ACC’s commitment to caring for diverse students’ needs outside of the classroom through clinical counseling. Most of all, I love getting to meet ACC students from so many different backgrounds, cultures, and histories who enlarge my perspective and give me the privilege to learn from their experiences.

What is one personal or professional accomplishment you are most proud of?
I am very proud of becoming a licensed mental health counselor. To me, it is not just a culmination of years of hard work studying and practicing in the mental health field, but it is also a reminder that it is okay to step out of what my family/culture traditionally considered as “acceptable careers” and step into spaces where my perspective and background as an AAPI professional can be a gift for that profession. I am also very proud of finishing ACC’s Floral Design certificate while working as an employee at the college.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
“When you are at an all-you-can-eat buffet, don’t be so quick to immediately fill your plate that you can no longer make room for the more delicious and/or expensive food at the end of the line. Look around first to see what you want to eat.” — Mama Wang (True for real buffets and metaphorical buffets of life.)

Why do you believe it’s important for the college to commemorate Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month?
I think the recent rise in anti-AAPI violence (since StopAAPIHate.org started tracking in 2020) shows that our nation needs to do a lot of work to help our AAPI friends and family feel safe and valued. We are full Americans, with some of our families having been here for nearly two centuries. And yet, unfortunately, many AAPI students and staff still feel like they have to constantly prove that they belong in this country and are worthy to be protected from violence and racism. Commemorating AAPI Heritage Month is a way for the college to invite all ACC students and staff to hear richly diverse AAPI narratives as ACC stories and ultimately an essential part of American history. ACC’s celebration helps recognize the contributions of AAPI students and staff, amplify the experiences of AAPI community members, educate about the roles AAPI communities have played in American history, and make a public commitment to honoring AAPI perspectives in its mission as a leading institution at a time where many AAPI communities are needing solidarity from their neighbors.

What is your heritage and what is your favorite way to celebrate it?
I am ethnically Chinese, but my family is from Taiwan, so we are fortunate to get to enjoy both Chinese and Taiwanese traditions. One of my favorites is making and serving Taiwanese shaved ice for our friends and family on a hot summer day. In my culture, sharing food is a really important way to include others in our lives. Many of my favorite traditions are centered around food and hospitality.

What advice would you give to our Asian American & Pacific Islander students?
Remember that just by being where you are right now as a student, you are already building new chapters of transformation for yourself and for the family story you are a part of, be it pursuing an education, committing to a dream career, advocating for societal change, or healing intergenerational trauma. Wherever you go from here, I hope you know how honored we are to have you as part of the ACC community, and I hope you will see that there are AAPI staff and faculty who are so glad to be able to support you on this journey. Seeing you on campus, in our classes, and in our offices is such a joy. We are so proud of you.