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Voices of Vision: AANHPI Leaders Shaping the Future of Educator Preparation

During Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AANHPI), a deeply engaging dialogue unfolded at the University of Northern Iowa, featuring Holmes Scholars Tiffiany Evans and Nimisha Joshi, alongside their mentors, Shuaib “Meach” Meacham and Sohyun “Soh” Meacham. This discussion brought forth a comprehensive exploration of their experiences and insights into leadership within the realm of educator preparation, particularly from the perspective of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Tiffiany, whose leadership shines within her role at an elementary school library, took a significant step by inviting Soh as a guest speaker for AANHPI Heritage Month. This act of leadership highlighted her commitment to fostering a deeper understanding of AANHPI issues within her school community.

Tiffiany’s initiative not only showcased her leadership but also underscored the importance of creating platforms for visibility and dialogue about AANHPI contributions and challenges in education.

“Hosting Soh was a pivotal moment, not just for our library but for our entire school community, to amplify AANHPI voices and experiences,” Tiffiany reflected, illustrating how such events can catalyze broader awareness and appreciation.

Nimisha shared her journey from India to the U.S., discussing the significant barriers she faced and how they shaped her approach to inclusive and empathetic leadership. “My first leadership role was to be a curriculum coordinator… that gave me the opportunity to work really closely with a leader who was collaborative and engaging,” Nimisha recalled, stressing how crucial these formative experiences have been in crafting her vision for leadership in education.

Soh discussed her transformative role following the Atlanta shootings (2021), which prompted her to assume more proactive leadership roles to advocate for AANHPI representation in academia. “After the Atlanta shooting… it was really a big wake-up call for myself. And then I started assuming some of the leadership roles for people who are actually from an Asian background,” Soh stated, highlighting how personal and societal events can drive AANHPI individuals to seek and embrace leadership opportunities. Additionally, Meach addressed the model minority myth and its impact on AANHPI visibility in leadership roles, emphasizing the need for AANHPI leaders to articulate their experiences more forcefully to challenge stereotypes and foster a more inclusive academic leadership environment.

This insightful exchange, enriched by the mentorship provided by Meach and Soh to Holmes Scholars like Tiffiany and Nimisha, underscores the critical need for diverse leadership in educator preparation. By weaving together their personal stories and professional initiatives — such as Tiffiany’s role in organizing a community-wide event to highlight AANHPI voices — these educators not only advocate for systemic change but also serve as catalysts for encouraging greater visibility and understanding of AANHPI contributions in education. Their collective experiences and actions demonstrate a powerful commitment to enhancing educational leadership and preparing the next generation of educators in a diverse and inclusive environment.


 Tiffiany Evans, School Librarian at Irving Elementary, AACTE Holmes Scholar

Nimisha Joshi, Teaching Associate at the University of Washington, Adjunct Faculty at UCDS Graduate School of Education, AACTE Holmes Scholar

Shuaib Meacham, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Northern Iowa

Sohyun Meacham, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, College of Education, University of Northern Iowa

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