|Student leaders at the NAPALSA Convention|
The Drake Law Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) won the Affiliate of the Year Award from the National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (NAPALSA) at their annual convention in Phoenix.
NAPALSA represents the interests of Asian Pacific American law students and provides advocacy, support, and career development opportunities for its members throughout the United States.
Beginning in 2009, NAPALSA started acknowledging the contributions of a NAPALSA Affiliate organization at the joint NAPALSA/NAPABA Annual Conference with a monetary award of five hundred dollars.
Criteria for the Affiliate of the Year Award includes a demonstrated commitment to the mission and goals of the National Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, excellence in contributions to the Asian Pacific American legal community, service projects or events benefiting the greater community, and dedication to Asian Pacific American law student members.
For several years, APALSA at Drake Law School was dormant. But in 2013, with the school’s continued efforts to recruit minority students, Drake welcomed a group of first year students who possessed a strong commitment to their Asian-Pacific heritage as well as sincere aspirations to enrich and diversify the student body. It was through those convictions and aspirations that APALSA was revitalized.
“We realized that Drake needed the student organization to be reactivated in order to represent the interests of Asian Pacific American law students, provide support to one another, and advocate for alumni resources and career opportunities for minority students in not only Iowa but also across the nation,” says Brooke Yang, 2L and president of APALSA. “Once we were more established, we learned that prospective Asian Pacific American law students actually looked at our website and chose to attend Drake in 2014 in part because they were intrigued by our activities and felt that they would belong and get support here.”
In 2014, the students worked with other student leaders to develop and implement Diversity Week, a week-long program featuring various themes. APALSA was in responsible for the cultural awareness segment and offered activities such as Chinese calligraphy, a chopstick-eating competition, and collecting donations for Burmese refugees in Iowa.
In addition, the group also co-hosted the Drake Diversity Mixer for incoming first year students during orientation week. At the Mixer, distinguished guests from the local legal community were invited to welcome minority law students, including the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court.
As for the future of the organization, this award is just a start. The group hopes to continue to grow bigger and stronger and be as inclusive as possible.