MANCHESTER, Conn. (May 3, 2018) — Three leadership awards were presented at Manchester Community College’s fifth annual Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebration on Wednesday, May 1.
Sheen Mathew, Indigo Bistro owner, received the Community Leadership Award; K. Umesh Vig, assistant to the dean of Student Affairs, received the Employee Leadership Award; and Pema Sherpa, a student majoring in biology, received the College Student Leadership Award.
Mathew has more than 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry and worked in Switzerland, Dubai and Hong Kong before immigrating to the U.S. in 2005, when he opened his first Indian restaurant, Utsav Indian Cuisine, in Vernon. In 2010 he sold his interest in that business to open his current restaurant in Manchester. He has volunteered countless hours to benefit underprivileged and disenfranchised populations. His philanthropy was cited as a beacon to all.
Vig currently serves as the Asian Pacific American Coalition of Connecticut Fund Raising Committee co-chair and also serves on the board of directors; he served as the board chair from May 2010 through May 2017. He has served as the MCC Congress of Connecticut Community Colleges chapter grievance officer and as Community College Division representative on the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education Region I advisory board. He was the first Asian president of the Alumni Association board of directors at Eastern Connecticut State University, and he is the recipient of many awards for outstanding service to the Asian Pacific American community.
Sherpa serves as a positive role model for her fellow students as she volunteers at the Cougar Pantry, the food and clothing pantry located on the MCC campus. She began her studies at MCC this semester and immediately stepped up to help make the pantry not only welcoming, but a safe place for students who are food insecure — and often, also housing insecure — to talk about their issues and get assistance.
MCC’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Leadership awards are named in honor of prominent Asian Americans who made significant leadership contributions to history. They are Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink, the late American politician from the U.S. state of Hawaii, who is honored by the Community Leadership Award; Grace Lee Boggs, the late Chinese American daughter of a restaurant owner, who was an author and lifelong social activist and feminist, in whose honor the Employee Leadership Award is given; and Connecticut State Rep. William Tong (D-147th District), house chairman of the judiciary committee, who is honored by the College Student Leadership Award.