The daughter of Los Angeles public school educators, and of Mexican-Hawaiian-Chinese heritage, Lani Cupchoy grew up in Montebello, California. Dr. Cupchoy is a scholar, artist-filmmaker-photographer and active community member who attended Montebello public schools and graduated from Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles; Master’s degree from California State University, Los Angeles; and Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Irvine. A public historian, Dr. Cupchoy is a lecturer in the departments of History and Chicana/o Latina/o Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. Her research primarily focuses on public culture, oral history, Ethnic and Gender Studies, and community engagement. She has authored publications including “Fragments of Memory: Tales of a Wahine Warrior” in Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2010: 35.
Dr. Cupchoy currently works with local school district stakeholders to provide educational opportunities to MUSD’s diverse student population. Particularly, Dr. Cupchoy aims to bring back and strengthen many of the programs she benefited from as a former student of MUSD such as art, dance, film, music and athletics while also fostering improvements in Montebello’s school system such as technology-based instruction. Dr. Cupchoy critically focuses on empowering the local community through Tk-12 multilingual education, incorporating MUSD’s ethnic studies approach, and drawing upon the community’s cultural wealth to address the achievement gap for at-risk youth thus preparing students for 21st-century demands. As MUSD Board President, Dr. Cupchoy developed a K-12 Safe Zone Resolution, which was designed to protect the constitutionally guaranteed civil rights of students including females, LGBTQ+, immigrants, and students of color.
Dr. Cupchoy’s article, which appeared in Yes! Magazine entitled, “The Fifth-Graders Who Put Mexican Repatriation Back into History Books,” conveys the story of Bell Gardens Elementary school teacher Leslie Hiatt and her students who inspired Assemblymember Cristina Garcia to introduce AB 146, which now requires California textbooks to acknowledge and discuss the unconstitutional deportation of Mexican-Americans during the 1930s in the United States. Dr. Cupchoy volunteered her services to create the award-winning documentary, Truthseekers (2016), which captures the journey of Hiatt and her students while illuminating the power of youth activism, community engagement, and ethnic studies. Sound bites from the documentary appeared in Latino USA – “The Kids Who Got ‘The Mexican Repatriation’ of the 1930s Into California Textbooks.”
The following links below provide additional information on issues that potentially impact the MUSD community: