FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno State is taking action to support Asian American and Pacific Islander students preparing for a career in criminology, and it hopes a big grant will help make it happen.
It's Fresno State's first grant from the U.S Department of Education's AAPI program, which supports Asian American and Pacific Islander students.
Dr. Yoshiko Takahashi says the $1.25 million grant is something the university has been working to receive for the past five years.
"I'm very happy about it, but at the same time, I feel greater responsibilities," said Dr. Takahashi, interim associate dean for College of Social Sciences.
She said there has always been a responsibility to support and prepare AAPI students interested in criminology and forensic behavioral sciences.
"I feel like a lot, not only myself, of my classmates, feel like we're probably not good enough for the field," said forensic behavioral sciences major Lisa Xiong. "We don't have that representation in the field that we want, so it's kind of scary because most of us are first-generation students."
Xiong is part of the 6% of AAPI students majoring in criminology, which is Fresno State's largest major.
According to Dr. Takahashi, some AAPI families don't believe there are a lot of job opportunities within the field.
"It actually covers a wide variety of areas, for example, corrections, court, mental health and victim assistance," she said.
Dr. Takahashi believes representation is important in criminology. The grant will help those with criminal justice careers better serve the Central Valley.
The five-year grant aims to improve outreach efforts within Fresno's AAPI communities to attract more students to the program. The grant will also fund work-based learning experiences, culturally responsive services training and a peer mentoring program for AAPI students.
Fresno State hopes to have the programs ready by Spring semester of next year.
Xiong said she's looking forward to it.
"There's a sense of belonging, a sense of inclusion," Xiong said. "I think that support system, and being able to have mentors to help us throughout our career journey is very important."
Both said the grant shows Fresno State's commitment to diversity, but also addressing minority students' needs.
Fresno State receives $1.2 million grant to support AAPI criminology students
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