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OCA Colorado partners with MSU Denver

By Lynne Winter ‘17

The newest scholarship founded at Metropolitan State University of Denver is on a mission to connect students to the community.

In July 2019, the Organization for Chinese Americans (OCA) Colorado established an endowed scholarship at MSU Denver to support primarily Asian-Pacific Islander students who are Colorado residents with financial need. A critical part of the application process will have students explaining how the scholarship, the education it supports and the opportunity to interact with OCA Colorado will help them have a positive impact on their community.

“We are looking forward to inviting the scholarship recipients to join OCA Colorado,” says Margaret Choi, J.D., president, OCA Colorado. “It will offer them an amazing opportunity to get connected with their community and Asian culture in Colorado.”

OCA Colorado is part of the national nonprofit OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates. Founded in 1973 and based in Washington D.C., OCA National has 100 chapters and affiliates across the U.S., including OCA Colorado. The organization and its members are committed to advancing the social, political and economic well-being of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“We have to band together to protect and promote basic social and economic rights,” says Choi. “OCA Colorado is a non-partisan group, and at the local level, we are focused on promoting the cultural aspects of Asian heritage.”

Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders make up 4.6% MSU Denver’s undergraduate student demographic. OCA Colorado hopes to connect with these students and provide them with the opportunity to network and explore their cultural heritage.

Members of OCA Colorado already have experience working with MSU Denver students and graduates – and they’ve been thrilled with the experience.

“I’ve had MSU Denver students working in my office, and they have been great,” said Ann Wang, CPA, president and CEO, AW Financial Services, and OCA Education Fund committee chair. “They learn quickly and their productivity is amazing.”

MSU Denver also turned out to be a perfect match when OCA Colorado was looking for a way to support higher education in Colorado.

“We wanted to connect with students,” says Wang. “Christine [Márquez-Hudson, vice president of MSU Denver University Advancement] was out in the community and we clicked. She helped us find a way to match our desires for supporting education with the needs of students at MSU Denver.”

On July 13, 2019, OCA Colorado held their inaugural OCA Colorado 2019 Panda 5K Run – a race to benefit youth in the Asian Pacific American community. Over 300 participants registered for the 5K, with proceeds benefiting the OCA Colorado Education Fund, and the event included an Asian resource fair. Following the race, OCA Colorado presented the MSU Denver Foundation with a $100,000 check to fund the OCA Colorado Endowed Scholarship.

Students who receive the OCA Endowed Scholarship will be invited to participate in OCA Colorado activities and mentoring opportunities.

“We hope that the scholarship recipient will stay in Denver and contribute back to the community,” says Wang. “We want to build a relationship with these students and mentor them.”

MSU Denver students are encouraged to apply for the scholarship today – the funds will be awarded beginning spring 2020. The two students selected to receive the scholarship will have the opportunity to renew the scholarship each year.

“We don’t want our heritage to get lost – for people to forget where they come from,” says Choi. “It is important to educate both the larger community and the Asian community so they can be proud of their culture and carry that forward.”

Learn how you can support the OCA Endowed Scholarship by contacting Christine Márquez-Hudson, vice president of MSU Denver University Advancement, or Ann Wang, OCA Education Fund Committee Chair.

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