University of Connecticut students pursuing Asian American studies or post-graduate careers in public education are now eligible to receive financial help from a small, Laotian-owned French bakery in Avon.
Khamla Vorasane and her sister Chan Graham are the owners of BuoNom Cafe & Bakery, which opened last February. Apart from selling delicious key lime pies, croissants, and macarons, this renowned shop now has a new endeavor: supporting Asian-Americans through education.
Under the Nom & Boulieng Vorasane Scholarship, named after their late parents, two students from the University of Connecticut will receive $1,000 a year for the next three years. The scholars will also be eligible to work as interns at the university’s Asian and Asian American Studies Institute.
The scholarship does not impose a grade requirement, thereby reaching more students in need. Vorasane and the bakery will fund the first six scholarships, but they are seeking donations to expand the project.
“What can we do to continue this conversation when the media no longer picks up about hate crimes towards Asians? How do we keep that dialogue going? One thing we realized is, it’s a matter of education,” Vorasane told NBC Asian America.
Educating Future Generations
Vorasane will support aspiring educators following a Connecticut General Assembly bill requiring K-12 public schools to set up Asia-Pacific American studies elective courses. The scholarship was established to incentivize students in the public school education track to better understand Asian American history.
“Not only do we want to help teachers in schools now who have classrooms … but we also want to educate the next generation of educators,” added Jason Chang, the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute Director at UConn.
“When you don’t teach actual history, people will fill in those gaps with common stereotypes,” Chang added.