May was Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Covering not only the Asian continent, but the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, the term Asian-Pacific is as diverse geographically as the contributions of Asian Americans are diverse in action and accomplishment. Whether it is in the arts, sciences, entertainment, or leadership roles, the Asian-Pacific experience is woven deeply into American culture.

May was chosen by Congress as the month to commemorate this heritage as it marks the immigration of the first Japanese to America on May 7, 1843, as well as the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869—an historic accomplishment that resulted from the efforts of many Chinese workers.

From these early, courageous steps of immigrants into a new and still growing country, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have continued to make significant cultural additions in various fields. Here, we take a look at 10 such individuals.