UMass Boston News

White House Honors UMass Boston Professor as “Champion of Change”

Office of Communications | May 10, 2013
Photo of Karen Suyemoto

Karen Suyemoto

On Monday, May 6, the White House honored fifteen Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women as “Champions of Change.” Among them is Karen L. Suyemoto, an associate professor of clinical psychology and Asian American studies at UMass Boston.

A part of the White House’s observance of AAPI Heritage Month, this event recognized Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women who are doing extraordinary things to create a more equal, safe, and prosperous future for their communities and the country.

“These fifteen women represent the strength and diversity of the AAPI community.  These leaders – in business, advocacy, philanthropy, sports, the arts, and academia – are wonderful examples for young women across the country,” said Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

Suyemoto has conducted research and taught undergraduate and graduate classes focused on racial justice for almost 20 years, receiving particular accolades for her teaching and mentoring work such as the first annual Liem Award for Graduate Mentoring.

In her teaching, scholarship, and organizational leadership, she seeks to empower those who have been oppressed or silenced while motivating those with dominant statuses to understand the influence of systemic privilege and work as allies to address injustice.

Suyemoto and her research team have explored how racial and ethnic identities and experiences of discrimination are associated with development and mental health for Asian Americans, with particular attention to differences within the group related to immigration, acculturation, transnational experiences, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and race.

She has authored over 30 journal articles and book chapters, and is the author/editor of two books. Her teaching, mentoring, scholarship, and service promote more genuine and empathic interpersonal understandings and contribute to the development of anti-racist, culturally inclusive therapy, education, and community interventions. Suyemoto has served as the co-director of the New England Center for Inclusive Teaching and is the past president of the Asian American Psychological Association.

"I am deeply honored to be selected as a White House Champion of Change," Suyemoto said. "This recognition is especially meaningful because my nomination was initiated by my graduate mentees and collectively supported by many colleagues and students at the university and beyond.

"As an academic committed to social justice, I cannot imagine a better professional home than UMass Boston.  My colleagues in Asian American Studies and Psychology conduct work that both sustains my own efforts and inspires me to make even greater contributions. Most of all, my students’ willingness to risk, to grow, to change, and to take action for justice is a constant source of motivation and my most significant reward," she said.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White house to feature groups of Americans – individuals, businesses and organizations – who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.

To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program and nominate a Champion, visit Read Suyemoto's Champions of Change blog.

About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s nine colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit

Comments (2)

Posted by Jennifer Brown | May 06, 2013 - 12:23 p.m.

Congratulations! What a great honor! Enjoy the ceremony!

Posted by carma | April 30, 2013 - 9:31 a.m.

I am so happy to be one of her students; she helped me to seek more about myself while respecting other people’s views. I am so grateful to her and to her assistant for helping me to see the world with different lenses.

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