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Fil-Am student, nurse awarded for excellence, community service

Coalition fights for more Asian American representation in various fields

CHICAGO, Illinois—Two Filipino Americans were among the recipients of  awards given by the Asian American Coalition of Chicago (AACC)  during its 31st annual Lunar New Year Celebration dinner ball at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont last Feb. 22.

Isabelle Marie Austriaco, 15, received the Youth Who Excel Award. She is a freshman at Maine South High where she has maintained good grades in addition to being a member of her school’s varsity dance team, the Hawkettes.

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Austriaco has also volunteered at a typhoon Haiyan Philippines Disaster Relief Fundraiser and Feed My Children where she packed foods to be shipped to Third World countries.

The Exemplary Community Service Award was awarded to Elvira Arucan-Ocampo, a cardiology and pediatric registered nurse at the Heart & Vascular Center of Lake County in Gurnee.

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Ocampo is a supporter of early childhood education. For 12 years, she has raised funds for the Margaret Carrol Memorial Scholarship Fund at St. Anastasia School in Waukegan to benefit eighth grade students who have achieved excellence. She is also a lector, Eucharistic minister and one of the organizers of the “Simbang Gabi” at St. Anastasia Church.

This year’s theme of the AACC is “Beyond the Bamboo Ceiling,” to recognize and award Asian Americans who have excelled and brought recognition to their respective communities. The Japanese American Community hosted this year’s event.

Approximately 950 guests were treated to a performance of Tsukasa Taiko, a Japanese performing group. The co-emcees were Cheryl Hamada and Keith Uchima.

Hamada is an actress who has appeared as an on-air pledge talent for PBS, host of WTTW’s “Your Chicago Kitchen,” and various roles on television. Uchima is an actor/musician, composer and playwright/director.

The Asian American Coalition of Chicago was established in 1983 to promote Asian American representation within all sectors of society and held its first AACC Lunar New Year  in 1984.

Asian Americans make up 5 percent of the population. In Illinois alone, the Asian American population increased by 38.6 percent within the last decade. Megan Nakano, president of the 2014 AACC, said that Asians are underrepresented in various fields of endeavor.

“The Asian American community has made great strides in education and social justice that some no longer consider us ‘minorities’ in the colloquial sense,” explained Nakano.

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She cited, however, that Asian Americans comprise only 3 percent of corporate officers, 2 percent of college presidents, and there are only eight Asian American CEOs in the Fortune 500.

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TAGS: Asian American Coalition of Chicago, Awards, Elvira Arucan-Ocampo, Hawkettes, Hyatt Regency O'Hare, Isabelle Marie Austriaco, Lunar New Year Celebration dinner, Maine South High, nurse, Rosemont, student, Youth Who Excel Award
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