The Model Minority Myth And Creating Educational Opportunity Essay
By Doua Thor
I am a Hmong American refugee. I was a first-generation college student. I was a commuter student, juggling the demands of working, going to school, and taking care of my parents and siblings. My parents didn’t know how to maneuver the American educational system, like getting a tutor or preparing for standardized tests. For many like me, not attending college or dropping out of school was a very real option.
Today, I reflect on the opportunity, mentors, and sheer luck that have led me to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). We are a broad-based government-wide initiative, housed in the U.S. Department of Education, working to improve the quality of life for AAPIs by connecting them to federal government resources.
Now the fastest growing racial group in the country, AAPIs are expected to increase from 20 to 47 million by 2060. Unfortunately, AAPIs face the “model minority myth” – the notion that all are well-educated, affluent, and self-sufficient. In reality, the AAPI community faces unique challenges, including in education. Forty percent of Hmong Americans do not complete high school, and just 14 percent have a bachelor’s degree, less than half the national average.
So how do we reach out to these underserved student populations? One important way is through Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), educational institutions that…