Magazine Feature / People

Political science graduate aims to take on the achievement gap

“I feel like I have found my family through this organization and have impacted many students in regard to their identity,” says Asian Student Alliance co-president Craig Hirokawa. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Senior political science major Craig Hirokawa has devoted much of his extracurricular time serving the student body, first as the social sciences senator in Undergraduate Student Government and then as president of the Student Advisory Council (SAC). It’s been his way of creating change and opportunities for students in the Divisions of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS).

“I originally ran two years ago so that I could be involved on campus,” says Hirokawa, who graduates this week with degrees in political science and international studies. “However, I have seen the potential that the Undergraduate Student Government has to create change on this campus. As president of SAC, I have worked to foster an AHSS identity for all AHSS students.”

Ginni Ishimatsu, AHSS associate dean of undergraduate studies, says Hirokawa has made an impact during his time at the University of Denver.

“Craig is an outstanding liberal arts student and leader,” she says. “He has helped build community among our AHSS students by creatively developing inclusive, fun, intellectual programming for his peers.”

In addition to serving AHSS, Hirokawa has been involved with the Asian Student Alliance (ASA) for the past four years. He currently serves as the group’s co-president.

“ASA seeks to address social, political and academic issues facing the Asian-American community,” Hirokawa says. “I feel like I have found my family through this organization and have impacted many students in regard to their identity and ASA’s influence for a more socially just and inclusive campus.”

Hirokawa was able to delve deeper into his Asian heritage when he studied in Japan last year.

“I was located between Osaka and Kyoto, so I was able to quickly access both a city center and cultural center,” he says. “Because I was generally located in the center of Japan, I was able to take trips from Tokyo to Hiroshima. I was also able to meet some distant relatives who still live in Japan. Overall, I felt that I got a sense of my cultural heritage, but also affirmed my identity as a Japanese-American.”

Hirokawa will begin a certification program this summer for a student teaching position with Teach for America, a national nonprofit that places recent college graduates in classrooms in low-income areas. Hirokawa will teach secondary social studies in San Jose, Calif., for at least two years. When his assignment is over, Hirokawa plans to attend law school and eventually work in education law or higher-ed law.

“Originally, I was interested in Teach for America because of the achievement gap in this country, and I felt that getting involved in the program would be a grassroots level for me to become a part of the solution to close this gap,” Hirokawa says. “Now, I’m interested in pursuing education law, so I think having real experiences in the classroom will allow me to be a more focused and informed advocate against the achievement gap.”

Hirokawa says his DU education has made him more aware of education issues in the U.S. “My liberal arts education has made it possible for me to think about the world around me and approach today’s problems creatively and critically,” he says.

–Janette Ballard

The undergraduate Commencement ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 8, at Magness Arena. For more information or to watch a live stream of the ceremony, visit



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