May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month – an observance which celebrates the cultures and contributions of people of Asian and Pacific Islander ancestry in the United States.
People of AAPI backgrounds hail from the countries in Asia and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. In 1992, Congress passed the Public Law 102-450 which officially designated May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. May was chosen due to the key milestones in Asian American history: the immigration of the first Japanese to America on May 7, 1843 and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869 which was built by Chinese immigrants.
There are 22 million Asian Americans in the United States, making up 7 percent of the population according to 2019 U.S. Census numbers. For Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders in the U.S., they make up less than one percent – about 1.4 million people.
To pay tribute to all the incredible cultures recognized by AAPI Heritage Month, we reached out to some of our AAPI teammates to learn more about their careers, inspirations, and community involvement. Keep reading to get to know them!
What’s been your proudest moment, biggest accomplishment, or most impactful contribution in your RV career so far?
Madison Blancaflor, Travel Editor, The Points Guy: “When I look back at what I’m most proud of at RV so far, I think it’s the work I did with Alex Maben (a product designer on the TPG team) and the recruiting team last year to develop the creative case competition used to help train the RV copywriter and designer intern class in 2020. It was the first time we incorporated the creative team into the broader case competition.”
Neha Taksale, UX Researcher, Financial Services: “Last year, Bankrate wanted to come up with many new features along with an entirely new design experience for our Known User Experience (KUE) authenticated users. I conducted extensive research for the KUE team — not just usability research but also a lot of Discovery/Exploratory research which was previously very rarely done on Bankrate. Since I was solely responsible for the KUE vertical and was a part of most of the product-UX meetings, I could develop a deep understanding of that vertical and make better recommendations. The insights and recommendations I shared with the stakeholders contributed quite a bit in the creation of the new authenticated experience which is now live on the Bankrate website. I am also very happy that our teams have undergone a considerable shift in the way we think about research and its importance within our development life cycle! I find teams incorporating research more frequently than they did before.”
Jennifer Lee, Publisher, Higher Education: “I’m proud of persistently going after changes I want to see that would either make work easier for the publishing team or bring out the visualizations that the content team would want. My persistence and initiative to simply ask to see if something is possible has allowed some new features to become available for the publishing team, so they’re small victories I’m happy about. Inquiring about things has also helped give me insight into how certain teams work that I’m not familiar with, so it has been a great self-educating process as well. “
Gillian Mohney, Breaking News Editor, Healthline: “As a health reporter, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely be the biggest story I cover during my career. We started doing articles on COVID-19 when it was still just a few cases in Wuhan and then quickly ramped up coverage shortly after cases were detected in the U.S. I’m really proud of how we were able to give readers clear and actionable information, especially when the pandemic was raging in the U.S.”
Aileen Ma, UX Researcher, Allconnect: “My proudest moments are seeing non-UXers engaging in the user feedback I’ve gathered and hearing that research come up again and again in conversations for optimizing experiences.”
Why is it important for companies to nurture and celebrate diverse workforces?
Neha Taksale, UX Researcher, Financial Services: “A diverse workforce brings a wide variety of people with different experiences, skills, perspectives and insights together to solve problems. It is important to have different perspectives on any problem so that the company can make better business decisions.
Diversity also increases innovation and creativity because people who come from different backgrounds can draw upon their unique experiences and different knowledge sets to spark new ideas.“
Madison Blancaflor, Travel Editor, The Points Guy: “The world is filled with so many incredible, talented individuals. And there is no way to tap into that talent pool if you’re only interested in one demographic. Creativity is fostered from differing perspectives and backgrounds, and having a diverse workforce is what’s going to lead to better solutions to problems, stronger connections with users, and ultimately more profit for the company. But beyond just profitability, I believe companies have a responsibility to foster and celebrate diverse workforces as part of a continued global fight for equality.”
Who are some of the Asian/Pacific American role models in your life?
Gillian Mohney, Breaking News Editor, Healthline: “My grandmother and mother are huge role models for me. My grandmother wanted to be a teacher but her family didn’t have enough money so she was married at 17 in China. She lost her only son when the Japanese invaded China in the 1940s. Eventually, she and my grandfather fled, first to Hong Kong and then Chicago, along with their six daughters. When I knew her, she was someone, who would not take no for an answer, even into her 90s.
My grandmother wanted my mom to be a doctor, but my mother pushed to become an architect. She eventually managed to become a successful architect in the 1970s in New York at a time when her boss refused to let her wear pants to work or to go to a job site. She’s still working today and now has her own firm.
Whenever I’m stressed out, I try to remember everything they faced, and it puts all my concerns in perspective.”
Neha Taksale, UX Researcher, Financial Services:
- “Indra Nooyi – Indra Nooyi is an Indian American business executive and former chairperson and chief executive officer of PepsiCo. She is now serving as a member on the Board of Directors at Amazon.
- Kamala Harris – Kamala Harris is an American politician and attorney who is the 49th vice president of the United States. She is the first female vice president and the highest-ranking female official in U.S. history, as well as the first African American and first Asian American vice president.
- Priyanka Chopra – Priyanka Chopra Jonas is an Indian actress, singer, and film producer. In 2016, Time named her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
- Kalpana Chawla – Kalpana Chawla was an American astronaut, engineer, and the first woman of Indian origin to go to space.”
Are there any ways that you hope to see RV celebrate and acknowledge Asian & Pacific American Heritage Month in the future?
Aileen Ma, UX Researcher, Allconnect: “Most people have a specific image when they think ‘Asian,’ and most of the time that image is East Asian. But there is a wide range of countries and cultures that are part of Asia, and even more so in the Pacific. I hope to see more celebrations of the underrepresented groups that are under this umbrella term and education on their history and culture.”
How do you stay connected with your culture through your community?
Jennifer Lee, Publisher, Higher Education: “From 2018 to early 2020, I was writing for a nonprofit, independent Seattle newspaper called the International Examiner. I was mostly a book and movie critic. I covered some local film festivals too, such as the Children’s Film Festival, the Seattle Queer Film Festival, and SIFF. I also got to know some AAPI filmmakers and got to learn more about the indie filmmaking process. I also got acquainted with the works of AAPI authors, which was eye-opening for me because growing up, I hadn’t seen much representation there. Getting more acquainted with the AAPI community through this paper helped me understand more about myself and my family, and most of all, I learned that the feelings and things I had experienced in my life were also experienced by others just like me, and it helped me feel less alone and normal.”
Ready to keep learning about AAPI heritage? Check out “From palaces to presidios: 5 attractions to immerse yourself in the Asian and Pacific Islander experience” by RVer Chris Dong, a writer at The Points Guy.