UW-Madison 2020 Amy Ling Yellow Light Awards
Performance and Academic Excellence
Thea Camille Valmadrid
Amy Ling pioneered and headed the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991. She completed Yellow Light:
The Flowering of Asian American Culture shortly before she died in 1999. Yellow Light was a seminal bool featuring a wide array of Asian American
authors and artists from across the Asian Diaspora. The Asian American Studies Program established the Amy Ling Yellow Light Awards in her
honor. The 2020 award recipients are:
Creative Endeavor and Scholarship
Winners: Ariana Thao, Thea Camille Valmadrid, and Christy Zheng
In “Project Hais Lus: Perspectives on language access, cultural barriers, and multilingualism in Wisconsin’s Hmong communities,” Ariana Thao,
fourth-year Asian American Studies Certificate and HMoob American Studies Emphasis student, together with co-author Dominic J. Ledesma
Perzichilli examines how best to address the needs of community members who are non-English dominant. Drawing on interviews with 23 leaders
of Wisconsin’s Hmong communities, Thao and Ledesma Perzichilli offer new insights on how the UW Division of Extension, as a part of the U.S.
Land-Grant University system, can improve its educational outreach mission to serve a community that is diverse, both linguistically and culturally.
As Thea Camille Valmadrid, fourth-year Music major in Violin Performance, observed in her study, “Bridges of Support: Investigating the Experiences
of Female Asian American Writing Tutors,” while the UW Writing Center provides tutors with informational materials on how best to support students
of color on campus, there are no guides to help address the needs of tutors of color. Drawing on interviews with three female Asian American tutors,
Valmadrid sheds light on the challenges and biases that Asian American female instructors encounter while teaching in a predominantly white
“As an individual who considers herself an Asian American,” writes Christy Zheng, third-year Asian American Studies Certificate student, “I have
struggled with the confusion and pain that collectively haunts the ethnic minority community. The fears of being alone and struggling with identity are
aspects of my common life.” To address this sense of alienation, Zheng developed an action project that goes beyond the walls of the Multicultural
Student Center, where students of color issues are not confined within a brick building and separated by ethnic and racial identities. For Zheng, the
vision is to build a more integrated space for cultural and social exchange.
Integrity and Leadership
Winners: Amanda Ong and MaiNeng Vang
As Professor Joan Fujimura writes, Amanda Ong, Ph.D. candidate in English, “is a leader among Asian American Studies students, and she sets an
example for other students about how to contribute to and participate in Asian American Studies.” Not only has Ong, together with Erica Kanesaka
Kalnay, created the interdisciplinary Asian American Studies Working
Group, she has also worked as a graduate intern at the Multicultural
Student Center to support APIDA-identified students. As a member of
English Department’s Diversity and Inclusion Student Committee, Ong
helped to organize a pedagogy workshop on Asian American Studies.
MaiNeng Vang, graduate student in Educational Policy Studies, went
beyond providing academic mentorship for the Paj Ntaub Research Team.
For Lisa Yang, she “cannot imagine college life without her, because she
really showed me how to love myself and my communities, even when they
are too exhausted to show up, and to make space for all my own
insecurities as a HMoob womxn.” Impressively, Vang also published a
poetry book, dej siab: from my liver toyours, dedicating 100% of its
proceeds to support UW Eau Claire’s Critical Hmong Studies Program.