The Asian Hall of Fame

Former Ambassador Gary Locke, standing, introduces Norman Mineta, seated in the center. The other Hall of Fame inductees are, from left, Manu Tuiasosopo, Grace Park, and Nathan Adrian. Hall of Fame President Karen Wong is seated on the right. (Photo by Rebecca Ip/SCP)

The Asian Hall of Fame honored four Asian Americans at its annual event at the Fairmont Olympic in Seattle on May 31. Since its founding in 2004, the mission of the Asian Hall of Fame is to honor achievement, inspire the next generation, and build the national community of Asian Pacific Americans. The Asian Hall of Fame is the premier initiative of the Robert Chinn Foundation. Karen Wong is the president of the Robert Chinn Foundation.

This years honorees were Norman Y. Mineta, Grace Park, Nathan Adrian, and Manu Tuiasosopo.

Norman Y. Mineta was born and raised in San Jose, Calif., and has made a significant impact through his long career as a politician.

Of Japanese heritage, Mineta and his family were among the thousands interned during World War II at a camp in Wyoming. After the war, the family went back to San Jose, and Mineta went on to attend the University of California, Berkeley. In 1953, Mineta graduated with a degree in business administration and served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army before joining his father at the Mineta Insurance Agency.

Mineta’s political career started in 1967 with an appointment to the San Jose City Council. He was elected to the same office two years later, then was elected vice mayor. In 1971, Mineta was elected as the 59th mayor of San Jose, defeating 14 other candidates and winning every precinct in the election. He had become the first Asian American mayor of a major U.S. city.

Four years later, Mineta was elected to represent Silicon Valley as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a post he held from 1975 through 1995. He co-founded the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and chaired the House Aviation subcommittee, the Surface Transportation subcommittee, and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Mineta was key in obtaining federal funding for San Jose’s airport and the Santa Clara County public transportation system, as well as in the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which officially apologized for the injustices endured by Japanese Americans during World War II.

Grace Park was born in Los Angeles, Calif., and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. Of Korean heritage, Park is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada and known for her work as an actress throughout North America.

Park, who grew up in Kerrisdale, received a degree in psychology from the University of British Columbia. After graduation, Park turned her attention to film and television and, in 2000, she was almost immediately cast in a role in the Jet Li film “Romeo Must Die.” She took on a guest spot in “Secret Agent Man” before quickly landing a role in the teen drama “Edgemont” the same year.

Park’s role in “Edgemont” gave her a consistent presence throughout the show’s five seasons on CBC, spurring on guest star roles in “Dark Angel,” “Stargate SG-1,” and “Jake 2.0,” as well as work on the Canadian show “The Immortal.”

In 2003, Park’s career was catapulted forward when she was cast on the Sci Fi Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica,” in which she played two leading roles. Her performance in the season one cliffhanger earned her a place in TV Guide’s “100 Most Memorable Moments in TV History.” The series received critical acclaim and a Peabody Award in 2006, as well as a nomination for Park as Outstanding Supporting Actress in Television at the AZN Asian Excellence Awards. She also stars in the TV show “Hawaii 5-0.”

Nathan Adrian grew up in Bremerton, Wash., before moving to Berkeley, Calif., to get a degree in public health and travel the world as one of the top swimmers in the country.

Adrian graduated with honors from UC Berkeley in 2012 and along the way became an 11-time NCAA champion, led UC Berkeley to its first NCAA team title in 31 years, Pac-10 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and a recipient of the Neufeld Scholar-Athlete Award, which is given to the graduating athlete with the highest cumulative GPA.

Throughout his collegiate career, Adrian also proved himself as a world-class swimmer, winning a total of 15 medals in major international competitions (12 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze). He holds the American record in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle events.

Adrian is a two-time Olympian (Beijing 2008 and London 2012), holding three Olympic gold medals. He is now training to be a multiple medal threat at the 2016 Rio Games, where he plans to defend his “fastest man in the pool” title and looks to become the first American to win the 100m freestyle in back-to-back Olympic Games since 1928. Adrian is still at the top of his game, swimming one of the fastest splits in history in the 100m-medley relay at the 2013 Barcelona World Championships.

Manu Tuiasosopo was born and raised in Southern California and made a name for himself as a high school, collegiate, and NFL football player.

A four-year letterman and starter for the UCLA Bruins football team, Tuiasosopo played defensive tackle and nose tackle from 1975-1978 and was a member of the 1976 Rose Bowl Championship Team. He earned numerous accolades during his collegiate career, including three-year All-Pac 8/10 League Honors (1976-1978), two-year 2nd team UPI All-American Honors (1977-1978), two Defensive Player of Year recognitions (1976 & 1978), and being named ABC-TV Chevrolet Player of Game in 1976.

Tuiasosopo was a first-round draft pick (17th overall) of the Seattle Seahawks in 1979, playing five seasons with the team as defensive tackle and nose tackle. He received NFL All-Rookie honors in his first year as a pro, and was a member of the Seahawks’ first ever playoff team in his last year with the team (1983).  (end)

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