Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Although the first Asian American Cultural Center (AACC) on a U.S. college campus came about as a result of student activism in the late 1960s and 33 other AACCs have since been established at higher education institutions across the country, very little has been documented in higher education scholarship about the Asian American Student Affairs Professionals (SAPros) who work within these unique institutional resources. While concerted efforts have been made to diversify the student body demographic at predominantly white institutions (PWIs), the negative impact of campus racial dynamics on students of color have nevertheless persisted and extant literature on the impact of these racialized experiences on Asian Americans in higher education has been comparatively small. AACCs are increasingly expected to not only serve as safe and advocacy spaces for a growing Asian and Asian American student population on campus but to also engage the broader campus community around issues related to race, access, and equity. Thus, learning about the lived experiences of AACC SAPros both within and outside of the higher education institutional context is important to understanding the critical consciousness development of Asian Americans more broadly and its influence on how Asian American navigate their positionality as the racial middle. This qualitative study utilized demographic surveys, photo project, semi-structure interviews, and participant observation to explore the lives of five AACC SAPros' who recently and currently held a full-time position at a higher education institution along the East coast. the purpose of the qualitative study was to understand AACC SAPros more wholly as people, what has influenced their identity and critical consciousness development processes, what led them to and informs their work at the AACC, and how they navigate their positionality as Asian Americans within and outside of higher education. Data reveals that the people around them have a significant impact on the racial identity making meaning processes of AACC SAPros. AACC SAPros often find their racialized experiences overlooked by colleagues and thus turn to other Asian American SAPros both within and outside of their institution for support. in addition, AACC SAPros' lives influence their approach to the work and in turn things experienced through their role also influence their life's approach to create an infinite loop of mutual influence. Finally, data demonstrates that AACC SAPros remain committed to uplifting the Asian American community past, present, and future beyond the formal responsibilities of their full-time position because they are driven by a deep love for the community.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.