The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

An APIDA Pride: Sabrina Salvador celebrates APIDA heritage and experience across the DePaul Community

Sam Mroz
Sabrina Salvador, Coordinator of the APIDA Cultural Center, poses in front of a whiteboard on Thursday, May 9, 2024. Graduating from undergrad in the Spring of 2021, Salvador would take over the role in October of 2022 while staying on as a graduate student.

Settled on a bean bag in DePaul’s Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Center (APIDA), coordinator Sabrina Salvador, known best as Sabs, carries on a conversation with an idle student. Talking about school and the responsibilities found within, she listens with intention.

Salvador graduated from DePaul in 2021 with a bachelor’s in psychology and carries her experience as a student into the many conversations she holds throughout the day.

A chat wedged between event planning for this year’s APIDA heritage month coupled with her current education as a grad student at DePaul pursuing a master’s of education in College Counseling and Student Affairs, conversations like these blend work, leisure and life into one common agenda. To support the APIDA presence across the broader DePaul community.

In planning this year’s events, DePaul’s APIDA center honors the background of APIDA individuals through means of culture, communication and history. Reflecting on past and present experiences with the celebration, Salvador noted the perks of her role in helping students connect.

“One of my favorite parts of this role is the moments when I can just sit in this space,” Salvador said. “To watch students interact and use this space to feel like they’re being heard and that their experiences are valid and that they are important on campus, because they are.”

Salvador entered DePaul in 2017 without the comfort of a designated cultural space. By the end of the school year, this vacancy would be filled and DePaul would reserve room 340 in the Levan Center for APIDA and its members.

During the center’s first year, APIDA students accounted for 9.2% of the DePaul student population, according to DePaul’s annual enrollment summary. As of 2022, that number increased to 11%, with Salvador taking over as the center’s coordinator in October of that same year. 

Addressing these statistics, Salvador highlights the power in pride over metrics, enforcing how APIDA may not be the biggest demographic across DePaul but still maintains a strong presence across campus.

“This is a proud and strong community regardless of the numbers,” said Luis Danao, sophomore and international student.

The 2022 report listed DePaul’s international enrollment at 7.4% of total students. For students like Danao, whose specific background hails from the Philippines, finding a place to identify with can be a major step in adapting to new surroundings.

“If there’s one thing I can do, it’s being myself,” Danao said. “That idea is a big part of APIDA.”

Arlene Park, a senior and community engagement assistant for the center, was curious to discover more about her Korean background. After visiting Korea in high school, that curiosity only continued to grow.

Exploring the roots of her culture through the center, APIDA became a staple of her time at university.

“As a Korean American who was born and raised in America, my upbringing was largely within my family’s cultural sphere,” Park said. “I’ve always cherished my culture and the rich history it offers, which has enabled me to appreciate myself more fully.”

The range of identities in APIDA allow students to promote their specific heritage alongside the broader folds they all fit into. 

“It’s hard to conceptualize APIDA in one sense,” Salvador said. “There’s so many of us with so many different organizations that exist on campus to build connections and community across the different groups that might fit within APIDA.”

Among these groups include Kalahi DePaul and the Asian Cultural Exchange, two branches of APIDA designated for engagement through student organization. Although they act outside the bounds of the center, they share an affection for APIDA representation across DePaul.

In hopes of building off the work of these groups, the center hosts multiple events throughout the year. This month’s celebration includes a Kim Chi Teaching Kitchen, a Night Market and an APIDA Graduation Celebration. More detail can be found on the center’s DeHub page.

Entering its final weeks in celebration, the center remains a key point of Salvador’s interest. She hopes to continue both as a coordinator and even more broadly, as a well meaning mentor for students to approach, the same treatment she found in her freshman year

“The goal is longevity, sustainability and developing programs that aim to foster growth,” Salvador said. “There’s always work that needs to be done and there’s always room to do better. There’s always room to grow.”


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