Building Community: AAPIRC’s Caz Salamanca

Under the direction of Caz Salamanca the AA/PIRC has continued to cultivate a hub of engagement and support for identifying communities. 

Director of UC Santa Cruz's AAPIRC, Caz Salamanca. 
AA/PIRC staff are committed to providing community to students at UC Santa Cruz. 

UC Santa Cruz’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Resource Center (AA/PIRC) envisions its communities to be affirmed and empowered in their identities. AA/PIRC co-creates engagement with students who identify as part of the Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA) diaspora at UC Santa Cruz. 

Under the direction of Caz Salamanca, who began his role in 2019, the AA/PIRC has continued to cultivate a hub of engagement and support for identifying communities. 

“We want all students to affirm their identities and the larger picture is that we want students to feel okay with being who they are and bring all of themselves to the table,” Salamanca said. “We want students to know that all of themselves will be welcomed, accepted, and validated.” 

Salamanca said that the Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Southwest Asian & North African diaspora is a vast umbrella that addresses many different ethnic identities; AA/PIRC’s ultimate goal is to provide meaningful resources, and programming for the communities in its scope; as well as education about these communities to overall campus. 

“Our goals are building spaces and programming where folks can find community, build community, learn about themselves, and learn about each other,” Salamanca said. “All the while, finding ways to recognize and address the personal and systemic oppressions that we in our communities face.” 

Over the past couple of years, Salamanca has created support groups and organized community gatherings for Asian American students throughout the rise of xenophobic rhetoric at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The racism and violence that impacted our community aren’t new. It’s taken new forms, and it’s gotten renewed visibility in the media, but it’s not new,” Salamanca said. “By hosting those healing spaces for the campus, it’s assuring to know that there is a community out there that can come together and be present, whether in-person or virtually.” 

Salamanca graduated from UC San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science and earned his master’s degree from San Diego State University. He’s garnered over 12twelve years of experience in higher education, with his most recent previous experience being an Adviser and Diversity Programs Coordinator for the School of Public Health at the University of Washington in Seattle. He’s served in professional organizations including, the API Caucus of the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE), and the California Council of Cultural Centers in Higher Education (CaCCCHE).

Whether AA/PIRC was a significant part of students’ UCSC experience, Salamanca says he hopes to establish a connection with alumni looking to make an impact. 

“I would love to be able to work with folks and utilize alumni’s strengths and introduce them to our current students and provide spaces where there are opportunities to mentor, educate, and share their resources, wisdom, and experiences with our current students,” Salamanca said. “I would love to help alumni pour back into a place and to a community that helped impact their experiences and trajectory.”