Awards and Recognitions
Every year during our annual Inspir(Asian) banquet students are selected to receive the Nobuko Saito Cleary Trailblazer Award, Helen Zia Award for Leadership Award, Ronald Takaki Award for Community Engagement Award, and the AAC Student Engagement Award.
Nobuko Saito Cleary Trailblazer Award
The Nobuko Saito Cleary Trailblazer Award is designated annually for two Northeastern undergraduate students. Through positive leadership, advocacy, and innovative ideas, these students enrich the experience of other Asian American students and promote the goals of the Asian American Center.
Recipients of this award demonstrate a commitment to Northeastern’s Asian American student community on the Boston campus and beyond. Candidates help create programming, develop events, and build engagement. Any undergraduate students in their second year of study or beyond who are enrolled during the current academic year are eligible to apply.
The Trailblazer Award is named for Nobuko Saito Cleary, who graduated from Northeastern’s English program in 1970 and is likely the first Japanese woman to earn a degree from the university. She launched her company, Cross-Cultural Communications, in 1985, where she specializes in developing business relationships primarily between the United States and Japan. A self-described cultural bridge builder, Cleary is the founding donor of Northeastern’s Asian American Center, and previously served on the former Corporation of the university.
Nobuko Saito Cleary Trailblazer Award Recipients
- 2023: Noor Mehta, Saren Nonoyama
Helen Zia Award for Leadership
The Helen Zia Award for Leadership is given to a graduating undergraduate student who has demonstrated positive leadership and initiative in promoting the development of the Asian American student community through advocacy work, programming, or involvement in key initiatives at Northeastern. This student has an awareness of what it means to be a leader in the Asian American community and has grown as a leader during their experiences at Northeastern. Nominations should include specific examples of the nominee’s leadership capacity, beyond simply implementing programs on campus.
Helen Zia is a Chinese American journalist, author, and activist who has been advocating against racism and hate crimes that affected the Asian American community. Her activist work has served to strengthen and build coalitions among various Asian American cultural backgrounds. She published many works and is known for her book Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People.
Helen Zia Award for Leadership Recipients
- 2023: Thao-Vy Le
- 2022: Brianna Ku
- 2021: Eva Chiu
- 2020: Megan Lau
- 2018: Liane Wong
- 2017: Jelina Marie Castillo
- 2016: Rohini Venkatesan
- 2015: Cung Tran
- 2014: Quynh Anh Le
- 2013: Richie Huynh
- 2012: Andy Huang
- 2011: Jennifer Cheng
- 2010: Amrita Chabria
- 2009: Franco Solleza
- 2008: Laura Tolentino
Ronald Takaki Award for Community Engagement
This award is given to a graduating undergraduate student who has demonstrated significant commitments to the Asian American community on or beyond campus. This student has not only been involved in the Asian American community but has taken the initiative to become more engaged in bringing visibility and voice to the experiences of Asian Americans.
The recipient of this award will have demonstrated an evolving awareness of the Asian American community and an ongoing commitment to the Asian American community. Nominations should include specific examples of the nominee’s engagement with the Asian American community, whether specifically at Northeastern or in the Boston area.
Ronald Takaki was an American historian, author, pioneer, and legend in ethnic studies. He was known for making it his life’s work to rewrite American history to include Asian-Americans and other ethnic groups excluded from traditional accounts and who helped start the first doctoral program in ethnic studies in the United States. He published many works including the famous Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans, and A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America.
Ronald Takaki Award for Community Engagement Recipients
- 2023: Andrea Koid
- 2022: Elaine Zhang
- 2021: Anisa Anuar
- 2020: Winnie Nguy
- 2018: Kelly Chia
- 2017: Stephanie Lock
- 2016: Deanna Wong
- 2015: Susan Ng
- 2014: Erickson Maala
- 2013: Thien Nguyen
- 2012: Priyanka Raval
- 2011: Cindy Wong
- 2010: Jaime Siochi
- 2009: Angelia Ly
- 2008: Katherine Hou
AAC Student Engagement Award
This award is given to student(s) who have demonstrated a commitment to engaging the Northeastern Asian American community through advocacy, programming, support services, or involvement in key initiatives that promote the goals of the Asian American Center. The recipient(s) of this award must demonstrate this commitment to student engagement during the academic year it is awarded. Eligibility: Any 2nd year or above NU undergraduate student.
Student Engagement Award Recipients
- 2023: Kevin Hu, Jocelyn Ju
- 2022: Atharva Gawde, Emiko Armstrong
- 2021: Francesca Mei, Elise Chan
- 2020: Thomas Cotugno, Anisa Anuar
- 2018: Melissa de Leon, Eunji Kim
- 2017: Anoushka Barpujari, Eesha Ramanujam
- 2016: Henry Ca, Celine Chin
- 2015: Liane Wong