Skip to main content

2024 AAPI Advancement Award Nominees

Thank you for your continuing participation in the AAPI Advancement Award selection process! As a reminder, this is an annual award given to a current UVA faculty member in recognition of their contributions to the AAPI community. The winner will receive $5,000 to donate to their UVA department of choice! Below are the four candidates in the running:

Yoon Hwa Choi

Yoon Hwa Choi HeadshotDr. Choi is currently Senior Lecturer of Korean and Director of the Korean Language Program at UVA. She has taught both entry- and advanced-level Korean courses and, as any students who took her classes before would know, she makes Korean fun and easy to learn. She is beloved by her students for being “super approachable” for extra help (office hours, speaking practice, etc.), and they praised her dedication to the field and her willingness to meet students’ expectations and interests.

Dr. Choi has been an active member of UVA’s AAPI community. She has spent the past 10 years developing the Korean language program and contributing towards the understanding and appreciation of Korean culture and Korean-American relations at the University. Her accomplishments, which are highlighted below, have earned her praises from alumni in both Korea and the U.S.

  • She has developed a guest lecture series where she invites guest speakers to the University, including Korean traditional opera singers, Korean professors from other universities, and local community members. She also created two language partner programs: (1) lower-level students with international students in person, and (2) upper-level students with graduate students majoring in Korean as a foreign language in Korea online. Her efforts have helped her students prepare to be linguistically proficient, culturally competent, and thoughtful global citizens.
  • She engages students to create a Korean community beyond the classroom, one that provides them with an opportunity to meet other students who are taking Korean language courses at other universities, through her curriculum.
  • She has served as a faculty representative for the Korean floor at Shea House, the language immersion dormitory, providing help to language assistants and residents learning the Korean language and culture through various activities and events.
  • She initiated the Korean Language Corner, which is not only for current Korean language students but also open to students, faculty, staff, and local community members who do not have any prior Korean knowledge. Participants enjoy learning Korean culture with authentic Korean foods through fun and interesting events, such as Korean traditional holidays, Korean Alphabet Day, Korean cooking day, K-pop competition, Korean OX quiz night, and K-movie and drama night.
  • She connects former students who are studying/working in either Korea or the U.S. with current students who seek similar academic/career opportunities. She also organizes reunions in Korea every summer for students who travel, study, work or live there.

Sylvia Chong

Sylvia Chong HeadshotProfessor Chong is currently Associate Professor of English and American Studies and Director of Minor in Asian Pacific American Studies. She has been a pillar of the AAPI community, teaching important AAPI histories that are not usually offered as courses, organizing community gatherings for learning and solidarity during events affecting the AAPI community these past years with student organizations, and hiring more AAPI faculty to teach AAPI and interdisciplinary studies. As a former student who had worked with her for Teaching Literature for Liberation noted: “She gave me countless opportunities to give back and get involved in teaching Vietnamese American history through my family history.” Professor Chong has published extensively on topics like the Vietnam War. Her theory of “oriental obscenity” has wide ranging implications on other political narratives, including the Black Power movement, law-and-order conservatism, second-wave feminism, and the nascent Asian American movement.

Crystal Toll

Crystal Toll HeadshotDr. Toll is currently Assistant Professor of Nursing in the UVA School of Nursing RN to BSN program. She teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in health assessment, surgical, medical, and critical care nursing, pathophysiology, population and public health, leadership, and clinical management, and is a seasoned mentor of both undergraduate Distinguished Majors and doctoral students. According to a former RN to BSN student whose cohort professor was Dr. Toll and who was the only Asian student in the class, “Her teaching was fully considerate to diversity in every aspect.” and “Without her specific cultural support toward Asian & other minorities students, I would not complete the BSN program this successfully.” Professor Toll was selected into the inaugural cohort of the UVA Health Leadership Institute, a groundbreaking initiative aiming to empower future UVA Health leaders, in November 2023.

Rajkumar Venkatesan

Rajkumar Venkatesan HeadshotProfessor Rajkumar Venkatesan is Ronald Trzcinski Professor of Business Administration at UVA’s Darden School of Business. He teaches “Marketing Technology Products,” “Marketing Strategy” and Marketing Analytics at Darden, and his research focuses on analytics as it relates to marketing return on investment, customer lifetime value, mobile marketing and the global political economy. He was selected as one of the Top 20 rising young scholars in marketing by the Marketing Science Institute, one of the Top 40 professors under 40 by Poets & Quants, and recognized among the Top 5 percent of marketing strategy scholars by the Journal of Marketing Education. He was also the recipient of the MBA Teacher of the Year Award at the University of Connecticut, where he taught graduate students before coming to Darden. Students describe him as “an amazing professor” who is “profound in his knowledge and willingness to help.” He “exemplifies being an outstanding AAPI professor,” according to one recent MSBA graduate who noted, “When we really got to know (Professor) Raj (Venkatesan) was when we were on our immersive learning experience in New York. (Professor) Raj (Venkatesan) talked to us about our career aspirations and he asked the hard questions that students wanted to ask potential employers.”

We are now asking you to help us select the award winner with your vote! Please use this link to cast your vote by March 1.

Cast Your Vote!