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Understanding the AAPI community and breaking stigmas

Anuradha Gore and boyfriend at the MD White Coat Ceremony
Anuradha Gore and boyfriend at the MD White Coat Ceremony
Date: Thursday, May 27, 2021

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is celebrated during the month of May to recognize the contributions and influences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

Anuradha Gore shares that this month is about showcasing the diverse ethnicities within the AAPI community and learning about and appreciating the different backgrounds and experiences everyone has. Gore is a first-year medical student and co-president of the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA) chapter at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

“There were plenty of things growing up that I realized were really different about me compared to my classmates,” says Gore. “I enjoyed sharing where I was from and my background with others.”

Gore’s parents emigrated from India and settled in Ames, Iowa, where Gore grew up.

“Being Asian Pacific American, you get to experience the best things about two cultures,” she says.

Food is a very important cultural tradition in Gore’s family. During Diwali—known as the Festival of Lights, one of the most significant celebrations in India—Gore’s mother would make an abundance of food for the family to enjoy together. Gore’s favorite dish is dosa, which she describes as “a giant crispy rice pancake that is paired with vegetables and curries.”

Gore recalls another special family tradition, common among Indian families.

“Any time we had a big test, interview, or if we were starting a new school, we would have a little ceremony where we would all think and pray for our success and that there would be no obstacles in our way,” says Gore. “The older I’ve become, the more I appreciate this tradition and understand that it is a big way our parents would show their support for us.”

Gore says that among the many different identities within Asian American and Pacific Islanders, there is a shared value of putting the community needs above individual needs or success.

“This has played a big role in shaping my view of medicine and how I approach my personal goals in life,” she says.

Tackling problems faced by the AAPI community

Gore shares that Asian Americans suffer from the ‘model minority’ myth and fade into the background when it comes to discussing societal changes, race, and ethnicity. As co-president of the APAMSA chapter, Gore says one of their goals this year is to spread awareness about the organization and the struggles faced by the AAPI community.

APAMSA Board group photo collage

APAMSA Board members from top to bottom, left to right: Yutao Su, event coordinator; Frances Fan, treasurer; Daniel Mai, co-president; Anuradha Gore, co-president; Lawrence Feng, vice president; Zain Mehdi, outreach coordinator.


APAMSA is a national organization of medical and pre-medical students committed to addressing the unique health challenges of Asian and Pacific Islander American communities. The association serves as a forum for student leaders to develop initiatives and projects addressing those needs.

One of those struggles is mental health. APAMSA recently held a panel to address this.

“Mental health in the Asian American community is still incredibly stigmatized and seldom gets talked about,” says Gore. “Identifying the barriers to discussing mental health with Asian American patients and the community is important.”

Prejudice and hate crimes against the AAPI community have been ongoing issues in the United States and have significantly affected the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of these individuals. Following the fatal Atlanta shootings that killed six Asian women in March, Iowa’s APAMSA chapter held a guest seminar on preventing hate against Asian American and Pacific Islanders with keynote speaker, Russell Jeung, PhD, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and professor and chair of the Asian American studies department at  San Francisco State University. A recording is available for viewing.

APAMSA will continue providing educational seminars highlighting AAPI challenges and recognizing AAPI heritage. In addition to other philanthropic activities, they plan to set up a mobile clinic providing outreach to underserved Asian American populations in the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids corridor in the coming years.

Learn more about APAMSA and how to get involved here.

Highlights celebrating Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.