NOVA Celebrates Diversity Milestone with a Grand Opening of the AAPI Intercultural Learning Center

January 26, 2023

On January 19, Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) hosted a formal ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony for the newly established AAPI Intercultural Learning Center.  This revolutionary center serves to raise awareness about Asian-American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) art, culture and history while also giving NOVA students from all backgrounds and identities a place where they can connect with one another and experience a sense of belonging as they pursue their educational goals.

The ribbon-cutting celebrated artists Karpagam Elangovan, Hyun Jung Kim, Liang Wei, Nobue Yamabayashi,  Jennifer Noda and Curtis Starr, all of whom contributed their art to the center and represent the rich diversity of the NOVA community and the region. The event included remarks from the college board members, college leadership and artists and closed with a lion dance from Choy Wun Lion Dance Troupe of Fairfax.

“It is an honor and privilege to have this center on our campus,” said Dr. Dianne Mucci, provost of NOVA’s Annandale Campus as she introduced Zuzana Steen, chair of the NOVA board and Director of Academic and Community Relations at Micron.

Noting NOVA’s designation as a Minority Serving Institution (MSI) and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI), Steen said, “NOVA’s beautiful and transformative intercultural learning center is a testament to our College’s commitment to supporting the region’s growing AAPI population and to creating opportunities for connection and cultural understanding.”

Students stand with a person dressed in a Chinese dragon costume

“NOVA is one of just four higher education institutions in the Commonwealth of Virginia that is an AAPI institution. We are the only community college in that small group,” said Anne M. Kress, president of NOVA. “The ability of our students to understand different cultures and to respect different cultures, is critical to our inclusive excellence. I want to thank everyone who has been engaged in the creation of this incredible center.”

 “I am so incredibly proud of the people who worked to make this center a reality,” said Dr. Nathan Carter, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at NOVA. “Thank you to all who came to this ribbon cutting and to those who have showed continued support to our College community.”

Ribbon Cutting

This center was made possible by a Department of Education-funded grant awarded to NOVA in the fall of 2021. The center will host events and provide services through AAPI Connect, a robust peer-mentor program for low-income students, and workshops for teaching faculty focused on AAPI perspectives.

For an on-going list of events that the center will host, please click here.  For questions regarding the new AAPI Cultural Center please contact Dr. Mei Lan Frame at For media questions, please contact Hoang Nguyen, associate director of external communications at

Topics: international connections, featured article, diversity and inclusion