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'We can show leadership in the everyday': Boise State professor inspires students

May is Asian American and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Boise State University honored Krishna Pakala.

BOISE, Idaho — Boise State University assistant professor Krishna Pakala moved with his family to the US 19 years ago.

"We all have dreams that we come to the US for,” Pakala said. “I'm the first in my family to get a PhD, which I never thought I would get. It all started with my master's degree at Arizona State. My grandmother, who is no longer with us, always told me I'd one day be a professor." 

Pakala is now living that dream and inspiring students at Boise State as an assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering. He said he took the opportunity to embrace new teaching methods and also incorporated technology into his classroom.

"Since then I never looked back and I really enjoy serving our students,” said Pakala.

That’s why Boise State honored him during Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander, AANHPI Heritage Month -- a month he says is important for Idaho to celebrate.

"It just honors the investment that our families have made in US and it also kind of recognizes our contributions we are continuing to make. In addition, being thankful to the community that is supporting us,” Pakala said.

Pakala said Boise State was one of the few organizations in Idaho to celebrate and honor AANHPI, who make up 0.3% of Idaho’s population.

"In higher education, the word 'universe' is in the name itself. So, I feel like they have the responsibility to show what it would be in an environment where they experience everything. From me, being from India, I feel most respected in my classrooms,” Pakala said.

Although the AANHPI community is small in Idaho, Krishna hopes to encourage those in the culture to be more active in the community.

"Find opportunities to rise up to leadership. Sometimes we can show leadership in our everyday without actually having a title,” Pakala said.

And for those outside the AANHPI community, Pakala said, “We are all connected in some way or another. The way we are helping their students get educated here. I think they should also feel a responsibility to support us when we need.”

As Idaho continues to grow, Pakala hopes for more events and recognition for the culture in the future.

"I think the more we get people to get celebrated like this, it gives us an opportunity to get more people welcome and feel welcome,” he said.

Pakala's special emphasis program presentation can be viewed here.

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