Top 10 Asian American achievements of 2013

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Posted on: January 2, 2014
NWAsian Weekly

Each year, certain people are recognized for their accomplishments in the Asian American communities. There were many incredible feats this year, so we grouped them into 10 accomplishments.

• 1. President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously to the late Sen. Daniel Inouye in August. Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in Congress, representing the people of Hawaii from the moment they joined the Union.

• 2. U.S. Senate Confirmations: It was a big year for U.S. Senate confirmations. Pamela K. Chen became the first openly gay, Asian American person to preside on a federal bench when she was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Raymond T. Chen became the first Asian American to serve on the Federal Circuit in more than 25 years with his U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit confirmation.Srikanth Srinivasan was confirmed as the first circuit court judge of South Asian descent to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

• 3. Obama appointments: President Obama appointed Twitter’s legal director Nicole Wong to be the White House’s new deputy U.S. chief privacy officer.
In addition, President Obama nominated Vivek Murthy to serve as the 19th surgeon general of the United States. If confirmed, Murthy would be the youngest surgeon general in U.S history.

• 4. Nina Davuluri made history by becoming the first Indian American woman to be crowned Miss America 2014. She was also the first woman to perform a Bollywood dance on the Miss America stage.

• 5. Wei Chen, 22, organizer of Asian Americans United in Philadelphia, won the Peace First Prize. He is one of 10 young people to receive the inaugural award, which includes a $50,000 fellowship that honors young people who are engaged in peace-making projects and positive change in their communities.

• 6. After 23 years of service, Gil Dong was officially named chief of the Berkeley Fire Department, and became the first Asian American fire chief in the continental United States.

• 7. Taiwanese American Ang Lee won the Academy Award for Best Director for his work on “Life of Pi.”

• 8. Young achievements: Nine-year-old Carissa Yip became the youngest U.S. chess expert. She reached the expert level at a younger age than anyone since the U.S. Chess Federation began electronic recordkeeping in 1991.
Eesha Khare, a Harvard-bound high school graduate from Saratoga, Calif., took the top prize at the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for her groundbreaking experiment, “Design and Synthesis of Hydrogenated TiO2-Polyaniline Nanorods for Flexible High-Performance Supercapacitors.”
In simpler terms, she invented a device that can charge a cell phone in 30 seconds. In addition, 13-year-old Arvind Mahankali won the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

• 9. Francis Su, a math professor at Harvey Mudd College in California, was the first Asian American elected president of the Mathematical Association of America.

• 10. Local headlines: Kshama Sawant, Benson Wong, Conrad Lee, My-Linh Thai, Maya Vengadasalam, Bryan Yambe and other local community members made headlines this year with their political accomplishments. (end)

Nina Huang can be reached at