“I think that opening up an Asian American Center really just demonstrates that something is finally happening and that the University and administration recognizes us and our needs and our voices,” Kang said.
In addition to inclusion, Lai thinks the center will aid in strengthening the Asian American community's impact and help the community feel more equal.
"Hopefully it can be a really important and powerful factor in helping the Asian American community establish a more powerful voice on campus so that we can work towards that equality for ourselves and for other minority groups on campus who absolutely deserve that as well," Lai said.
Even before the first event, Kang said she could feel a shift in the community. She said felt more like she had a place on campus.
"It's a little hard without the physical space, but just the support of administration and the opening and the launch of the Asian American Center, there has definitely been a shift in at least how I personally feel," Kang said.
The Asian American Center has started preparing its first event, which will be hosted virtually.
Shi said this is the first time she can remember having an event that was made specifically for Asian American students. She appreciates the impact of having institutional support.
The center will also provide additional support for Asian American students that's centered toward them.
"I think the Asian American Center is going to fill a very much-needed resource in terms of a place that our community can go to for more established help mental health resources, advising, more structural help in actually making policy changes in how minority groups are treated on campus," Lai said.
Shi also noted that, although progress is being made, the work of the Asian American Center will be a continued effort.
“Once your job is done, you are going to pass the stake onto the next generation of student leaders that's going to be leading this campaign, and that just speaks to the fact that this work will never be done,” Shi said.
Shi said she will pass on the responsibility to the next generation and help as an alumna, as the current alumni are doing for the center.
Shi already knows what it’s like to attend UNC without an Asian American Center — and what it's like to not have a specific place for her.
"I am most excited for the thought of an Asian American Center to be normal on campus and not something that people feel they need to work for, and is something that is just there for them when they come to UNC," Shi said.