Honoring the Contributions of Asian Pacific Islanders May is designated as Asian Pacific Islander (API) Heritage Month to recognize the inherent diversity of API languages and cultures and to celebrate the achievements and contributions of API communities in America. The celebration originated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week in 1978 by a joint congressional resolution. The first ten ... Features
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Features  |   May 01, 2008
Honoring the Contributions of Asian Pacific Islanders
Author Notes
  • Greta T Tan, is a speech-language pathologist at Cupertino Union School District in Cupertino, California. She serves on ASHA’s Multi-Cultural Issues Board and is also a project coordinator of ASHA’s Asian-Pacific Islander Caucus. Visit the API Caucus Web site for more information.
    Greta T Tan, is a speech-language pathologist at Cupertino Union School District in Cupertino, California. She serves on ASHA’s Multi-Cultural Issues Board and is also a project coordinator of ASHA’s Asian-Pacific Islander Caucus. Visit the API Caucus Web site for more information.×
  • Michelle Yee, is a doctoral student in Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. She is also a project coordinator of ASHA’s Asian-Pacific Islander Caucus.
    Michelle Yee, is a doctoral student in Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. She is also a project coordinator of ASHA’s Asian-Pacific Islander Caucus.×
  • Christine Yeh Kuo, is a graduate student in communication disorders and sciences at San Jose State University. She will begin her CF in fall 2008, and hopes to serve culturally and linguistically diverse populations. The authors wish to thank John P. Craven, Emi Isaki, and Larry Boles for their contributions.
    Christine Yeh Kuo, is a graduate student in communication disorders and sciences at San Jose State University. She will begin her CF in fall 2008, and hopes to serve culturally and linguistically diverse populations. The authors wish to thank John P. Craven, Emi Isaki, and Larry Boles for their contributions.×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Features
Features   |   May 01, 2008
Honoring the Contributions of Asian Pacific Islanders
The ASHA Leader, May 2008, Vol. 13, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR3.13072008.np
The ASHA Leader, May 2008, Vol. 13, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR3.13072008.np
May is designated as Asian Pacific Islander (API) Heritage Month to recognize the inherent diversity of API languages and cultures and to celebrate the achievements and contributions of API communities in America.
The celebration originated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week in 1978 by a joint congressional resolution. The first ten days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and the contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed on May 10, 1869. In 1992, the 10-day observance was expanded to a month-long event.
In honor of API Heritage Month, the following profiles highlight two pioneering ASHA members who have dedicated their life’s work to the advancement of API issues.
Li-Rong Lilly Cheng
San Diego State University
San Diego, California
When she was two years old, Li-Rong Lilly Cheng left her native Shanghai, China, and moved to Taiwan due to her parents’ concerns for her health. It was on her grandfather’s sugar cane plantation in southern Taiwan that Cheng’s journey in cultural and linguistic diversity began.
Cheng recalls that one of her earliest and fondest childhood memories was to converse with individuals who spoke a variety of Chinese dialects and talk with individuals who spoke Japanese. As she grew up and attended school in Taiwan, Cheng continued to speak several different languages. Polyglotism was necessary to both survive and thrive in Taiwan’s multilingual and multicultural society.
After completing primary school, Cheng continued on to attend a girls’ middle school and high school in Taiwan. She then attended National Taiwan University, where she studied English and Spanish and graduated at the top of her class with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. Cheng attributed her success to her interest and enjoyment of these subjects.
After graduation, Cheng received offers from several universities in the United States to study abroad. She decided to continue her education and went on to study linguistics and teach Chinese at Southern Illinois University in Illinois. In the process of studying linguistics, she became fascinated with communication sciences and disorders. Cheng eventually earned a Ph.D. from San Diego State University and Claremont Graduate School in speech-language pathology. She became the first certified speech-language pathologist of Chinese origin in the United States.
At the time of her entry into the profession, the field of speech-language pathology was unknown to most people of Asian/Pacific-Islander descent, but Cheng was determined to make a change. She recalls that when she first became involved in the field, there was a dearth of resources in the area of API services. There were no courses on API bilingual assessment, no training in assessment interpretation, and no suggested testing or assessment methodologies. In addition, little research was being conducted to fill these lacunae. Cheng’s motivation to effect change in the profession was driven by two factors: a strong desire to better understand the assessment of language performance, and an equally strong desire to educate to promote services for the API population. In 1987, Cheng made an invaluable contribution to the field of speech-language pathology with the publication of her first book, Assessing Language Performance of Limited English Proficient Students.
As a pioneer, Cheng was one of a small group of speech and hearing professionals from API backgrounds who were ASHA-certified. In 1985, this group of speech-language pathologists and audiologists held their first meeting at the ASHA’s National Office. Cheng recognized this forum as a viable seed for an organization that could foster culturally, linguistically appropriate services and education for the API population. Through this forum, Cheng and her colleagues made presentations on the API population, which slowly and steadily allowed the forum to gain both presence and publicity for the API community within ASHA. These events eventually led to the establishment of the API Caucus, which has greatly contributed to the growth of speech-language pathology in the API community.
Since then, Cheng has become involved with various minority groups and committees, both within the profession and at governmental levels. She has made an impact on many professional organizations, conducted numerous research projects, and published many articles and books on various topics focusing on the API population in the field of speech-language pathology. Of all of these achievements, Cheng considers the establishment of ASHA’s API Caucus to be her most significant contribution because “it is a network group that shares the common goal to help professionals attain their professional identity while maintaining their linguistic and cultural diversity.” Cheng believes that cultural experiences and linguistic knowledge are among the most influential factors that shape a person’s value and identity.
Cheng is currently a professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders at San Diego State University in California.
Dorothy D. Craven (Ret.)
University of Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii
When she was a little girl in University City, Missouri, Dorothy D. Craven loved to listen to her parents tell stories about her grandfather, Wilhelm Drakesmith, who immigrated to the United States from Germany in the 1840s. Eventually, he joined the Union Army and fought in the Civil War. “Our family is very proud of him,” Craven said. “He was such an adventurer!”
Craven also had many adventures in her life. She was the first person in her family to attend college, and she studied at Southeast Missouri State College (now Southeast Missouri State University) to become a teacher. However, in 1945, during her senior year, she and several fellow students had an opportunity to observe celebrated educator and speech correctionist Jayne Shover at the Easter Seal clinic in Illinois. “Shover was very kind to us,” Craven remembers. “We spent a whole day observing her working with kids with Cerebral Palsy; I was fascinated by her work!”
Following Shover’s advice, Craven went on to the University of Iowa and earned master’s degrees in both speech-language pathology and audiology. “In those days,” Craven recalled, “we used texts by people such as Van Viper. We were also encouraged to take classes outside of the department.”
While attending the University of Iowa, she met her husband of 57 years, John Craven, a visionary ocean engineer who explored the ocean’s potential in providing clean and free energy sources. They brought their family to Hawaii in 1970 where Craven’s greatest adventure began.
Craven was fascinated by the islands’ multicultural atmosphere and was excited about living with people from various cultural and linguistic backgrounds. “When I lived in Maryland, I had friends from China, Egypt, and other countries. But I did not start working with people of diverse cultures until I moved to Hawaii,” said Craven. “I have had the good fortune to work with students from places like mainland, Hawaii islands, Japan, Guam, American Samoa, China, and Taiwan. Everyone teaches me something new about their culture.”
When Craven began working at the University of Hawaii (UH) as an assistant professor in 1970, the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology was “low on budget and short on staff,” she said. The islands also had a critical shortage of certified speech-language pathology and audiology professionals.
Determined to overcome these challenges, Craven went to the Hawaii legislature to advocate for increasing the qualifications for speech-language pathologists and audiologists. In 1976, Hawaii passed state licensure requirements for SLPs working in private practice, hospitals, and academic settings. Licensure requirements were later extended to school-based and state-employed SLPs in 1982.
Craven was also involved in the state professional associations and actively promoted continuing education opportunities for speech-language pathology and audiology professionals. Using her volunteering experiences from working with ASHA and state speech-language-hearing associations in Maryland and Iowa, Craven helped to organize the first Hawaiian Speech-Language-Hearing Association convention in 1980.
Craven received numerous awards and honors during her distinguished career. She became an ASHA Fellow in 1972. She also received the Hawaii-Speech-Language-Hearing Association Distinguished Service Award (1989), the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation Louis DiCarlos Clinical Achievement Award for Outstanding Clinical Achievement (1997), and the State of Hawaii Senate Resolution of Commendation (1998). Craven feels that her greatest professional contribution is passing on her vast knowledge to her students.
Emi Isaki, assistant professor at UH Department of Speech-Language Pathology, calls Craven a “wonderful friend and excellent mentor.” During her 28-year tenure at UH from 1970–1998, Craven taught courses on fluency, voice, language development, and introduction to speech-language pathology. Larry Boles, a former UH colleague, recalls that “she ran the clinic nearly single-handedly, in addition to a full teaching load and serving as advisor for nearly all students in the program.” After her retirement in 1998, she continued to serve as an adjunct faculty and taught one course each year.
Craven’s love and support for her students extend far beyond their graduation. She would often fly from Oahu, where the UH is located, to other islands to provide CF supervision and consultations to new clinicians. In doing so, she helped to provide quality speech-language pathology and audiology services to Hawaiian communities. Craven also was frequently invited to students’ weddings, birthday parties, and other social events.
Isaki believes that Craven exemplifies the saying that “learning never ends. “Even in retirement, Craven continues her adventure in acquiring knowledge by reading journals and texts, and attending conferences on various topics. “Just to keep up,” she said. “There is still so much to learn!”
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May 2008
Volume 13, Issue 7