Asian Pacific Islander American Advisory Committee
Asian Pacific Islander American Advisory Committee

Asian Pacific Islander American Advisory Committee


The APIA Advisory Committee is a longstanding group, contributing to the diversity of the campus community since 1990. Its founders initiated the development of the Asian American Studies Program, advocated for the collection and review of data for this population, and supported the Asian American Scholarship. The purpose of the committee is to focus attention on matters of curriculum, student success, and services that meet the needs of APIA students. It also serves to support APIA faculty, staff, and campus and outer communities.

Type: Operational

Reports to: Academic Affairs

Meets: Third Friday of the month, 10 am to 11:30 am  |  View Agendas & Minutes


  1. To review and share current campus research available on the APIA population; to communicate needs of APIA students to the campus and to the community; to identify what resources or programs exist on campus for this population; to identify ways to share relevant information with APIA students and the APIA community.

Membership 2017-2018

  • (2) Co-Chairs
  • Shirley Flor
    Counselor, Counseling Department
  • Pianta
    Professor of English and ESOL, English Department
  • (1) Administrative Representative
  • Charlie Zappia
    Dean, Social/Behavorial Sciences and Multicultural Studies
  • (9) Faculty Representatives
  • Yosh Kawahara
    Professor, Pyschology
  • Jaye Van Kirk
    Professor, Pyschology
  • Nancee Kesinger
    Professor, English
  • Gloria Kim
    Assistant Professor, History
  • Tassanee Chitcharoen
    Assistant Professor, Library Services
  • Robert Wong
    Assistant Professor, Architecture and Environmental Design
  • Valerie Abe
    Assistant Professor, Architecture and Environmental Design
  • Ron Israel
    Professor, English and Humanities
  • Jennifer Derilo
    Assistant Professor, English
  • (2) Classified Representatives
  • Hai Hoang
    Research and Planning Analyst, Institutional Effectiveness
  • James Arnegard
    Senior Student Services Assistant, Admissions

Committee Member Bios

Valerie Abe is an assistant professor in the Architecture and Environmental Design Department. Valerie is a graduate of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and holds a five-year professional degree in Architecture. She studied architecture abroad for fifteen months in Florence, Italy and Athens, Greece. While practicing architecture, Valerie was an adjunct instructor for twelve years. Courses she teaches include: History of Ancient World Architecture; History of World Architecture; Advanced Architectural Design I; Architectural Design II; Architectural Design; and Graphic Design Communication I.

Valerie has exhibited her Japanese American Concentration Camp etchings, and served on the Board of the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego.

James Arnegard is a senior student services assistant and has worked closely with students in Admissions for over fifteen years to help them with their prerequisites, petitions, and challenges for English, ESOL, Chemistry, Math, and Languages. He also works directly with all seven of the Allied Health (medical) programs to help their students navigate through the system. Dedicated to their success, he supports all the disciplines in their efforts to help students advance and to fulfill the mission of the college.

Tassanee Chitcharoen is an assistant professor and cataloging/technical services librarian at the School of Learning Resources and Academic Support. She received her master’s in library and information science from San Jose State University, a master’s in geography from California State University, Chico and a bachelor’s in history from Rutgers University. Prior to joining San Diego Mesa College, she was a government information cataloger at both the University of California, Davis, and at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Tassanee currently teaches information literacy and provides reference assistance in the Library Resource Center. Her committee work includes serving on national committees such as the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), which supports library services, programs, and awards related to library services to Asian/Pacific Americans and Asian/Pacific American librarians.

Jennifer Derilo is an assistant professor of English and writing center coordinator. She received her B.A. cum laude and departmental honors in literatures of the world at University of California, San Diego, and her M.F.A. with departmental honors in English and creative writing at Mills College, where she was its first Jacob K. Javits scholar. She teaches all levels of English: accelerated reading, writing, and reasoning; basic composition; reading and composition; critical thinking and intermediate composition, as well as introduction to literature, and the honors course in creative writing. Jennifer serves on the board of directors for So Say We All.

Shirley Flor is a founding member of Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Advisory Committee and a retired counseling faculty member who currently works pro-rata in the Counseling Department. She completed both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from San Diego State University. She has served as chairperson of the Asian Pacific American Islander Committee and continues to support the APIA Scholarship for San Diego Mesa College students who show an interest in leadership and community service. She is currently the co-chair for the APIA Committee. Shirley volunteers for the House of the Philippines in Balboa Park and is a member of the SDSU Samahan Alumni Association.

Hai Hoang is a research and planning analyst for the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. He received his degree in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. Hai has worked for several research labs and research centers, including SRI International and the Greater Good Science Center, Berkeley. Before coming to Mesa, Hai was an Analytics Fellow at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Stanford.

Hai is on the instructional team for an online psychology course offered through BerkeleyX. He enjoys photography, music, and martial arts. Hai has spoken at various Student-Support-Services events across California to share his college journey as an immigrant.

Ron Israel is a professor in the English Department. His degrees include a master’s in humanities from California State University, Dominguez Hills, a master’s in English from San Diego State University, and a bachelor’s in psychology, from University of Arizona. Ron taught English as an adjunct professor for seven years throughout San Diego County. He has taught full time at San Diego Mesa College since 1997, teaching composition, literature, and creative writing. Currently, Ron teaches humanities courses, including Intro to Humanities, World Religions, and Mythology.

Yosh Kawahara is a founding member of Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Advisory Committee. He holds a Ph.D. in physiological psychology and learning. Now semi-retired, he has been a professor at San Diego Mesa College for over forty years and chair of the Department of Behavior Sciences for many years. While at Mesa, he also co-founded and co-directed the first Bridges to the Baccalaureate program at Mesa College, a National Institutes of Health/National General Medical Sciences program to support underrepresented students.

A highly respected member of numerous national Asian American organizations and mentor to many in the APIA community, Yosh is able to speak firsthand about the full range of APIA experiences, as he and his family were incarcerated at the Heart Mountain, Wyoming, concentration camp as a result of Executive Order 9066 in 1942. (He may be the only active SDCCD faculty member who was held in the unconstitutional American concentration camps.)

Although semi-retired, Yosh remains active in supporting the APIA community, locally and nationally, and has received national recognition for his work in the field such as by the National Asian American Psychological Association.

Nancee Kesinger is a professor of English at San Diego Mesa College. She began teaching at Mesa College in 1988 as an adjunct instructor and accepted her contract position in 1989. Before arriving at Mesa College, Nancee taught for four years in the Warren College Writing Program at UCSD. Each of Nancee’s advanced degrees was earned at the University of California, San Diego. At Mesa College, she has successfully taught a wide range of English department courses, including ESOL, Basic Skills (Developmental Reading and Developmental Composition), transfer-level Critical Thinking and Writing, and American Literature (her area of scholarly emphasis). Over the decades Nancee has served on many district, campus, and department committees where she consistently focuses her efforts on supporting under-represented and under-prepared students (complemented by work for a variety of off-campus advocacy organizations that benefit from her commitments to quality public education and social justice). Nancee published a course textbook in 2017 titled Don’t Get It Twisted: Critical Thinking in the Classroom.

Gloria Kim is an assistant professor of history in the Social Sciences department. She received her bachelor’s in history with distinction from the University of Washington. She then received her master’s and doctorate in history from the University of California, San Diego. Specific areas of interest include race, gender, sexuality, immigration and migration, educational equity and disparity, and historical discourse over women’s reproductive rights. Gloria taught at San Diego Mesa College as an adjunct instructor from 2013-2014, and was hired full time in 2015. She teaches the United States History survey, United States History from the Asian Pacific American Perspective, and the Women in United States History sequence.

Charlie Lieu is a college technical analyst for Student Services. He works closely with all student service departments and programs to provide technical expertise, support, and training. Prior to this role he also worked in the Office of Institutional Effectiveness at Mesa College as the lead technical support and manager of data management software for Program Review and Outcomes Assessment. Charlie has a master’s degree in Adult Education and Training and a bachelor’s degree in English with over nine years of experience providing administrative and technical support to college students, instructors, and administrators in higher education. In addition he has experience as a college and junior high school instructor.

Pianta is a professor of English and ESOL and has her master’s in English as a Second Language and her bachelor’s in English from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals, and she often incorporates video and live music at her readings. In addition to her second language studies activities, she has also reviewed ESOL texts and presented at conferences, including at the International Applied Linguistics Teacher Training Conference in Scotland. Pianta teaches Asian American Literature, Critical Thinking/Intermediate Composition, Introduction to Creative Writing, and Poetry Seminar.

Jaye Van Kirk is a founding member of Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Advisory Committee. A professor of psychology, her educational background includes: a master’s in zoology from Miami University, all but dissertation in psychobiology from Ohio State University, a master’s in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and a bachelor’s in psychology from San Francisco State University. She teaches: physiological psychology, research methods, careers in psychology and human sexuality. Jaye has extensive leadership experience as National President of the Psi Beta National Honor Society in Psychology. As Co-PI for the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program, she mentored underrepresented students in STEM disciplines to support education from associate’s to doctorate degrees. Jaye has received regional and national awards for excellence in teaching and mentoring. She is currently engaged in behavioral research on primates to support conservation efforts of endangered species.

Robert Wong is an assistant professor of architecture. He received his bachelor’s and master’s in architecture Woodbury University, and his associate’s from San Diego Mesa College. Robert spent twenty-five years in industry and was an adjunct instructor for over ten years prior to his tenure-track position at San Diego Mesa College. He has taught many courses in the Architecture Department, including Graphic Design Communication I, ArchiCAD, Architectural Production Detailing, Architectural Construction Documents, Advanced Architectural Design I, Architectural Detailing, and Graphic Design Communication II. His current projects include updating teaching material to align his courses to industry and transfer requirements.

Robert’s interests include Mid Century Modern architecture and design, and genealogy. In addition, he serves as a board member of the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park.