Inside USD

Class of 2014: Korinna Li

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The University of San Diego’s Class of 2014 graduated in late May, but Inside USD is extending the celebration this summer with a series of feature stories highlighting some of our notable graduates.

Korinna Li, an Ethnic Studies major and advocate, says that the biggest gift she received at the University of San Diego was mentorship in the Department of Ethnic Studies. Li credits the mentorship with what helped her grow at USD, and complete her own undergraduate research on the referendum struggles in Barrio Logan.

Gail Perez, PhD, associate professor of English/Ethnic Studies, says of Li, “Korinna Li has been more than a superior student in our Ethnic Studies department. She has been a friend, a leader in the participatory democracy style of Ella Baker, and a true force for change on campus and in the community. By change, I mean the ability to expose an unjust situation, name it, and seek to transform it. Thus, her evolution as a thinker has been about developing critical consciousness, about using theory to help her understand power relations and oppression.”

Li will present this research at a conference later this year. During her freshman year, Li co-founded the Multicultural Sorority to help create a sense of space for diverse students. Li’s student activism includes working with her peers to support the DREAM Act, which would allow immigrant children to receive a college education. Li and her peers pushed USD to publicly support the bill, which came to fruition earlier this year.

Although a serious student, Li has a playful side that Perez is quick to acknowledge. “She embodies the ideal of an Ethnic Studies education: praxis, where theory and practice unite. Korinna’s style of leadership is democratic, collaborative, and fun. In her revolution, there will be dancing!”

Li has been awarded a prestigious fellowship next year with the National Asian American Organizing Fellowship in Boston, Massachusetts.

– Melissa Wagoner Olesen

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