Sompathana Phitsanoukanh


Education: Bachelor of Arts in women's studies (August 2006)

McNair Project: Moving On Up: Educational, Economic, and Social Mobility in Lao Families from Southwest Kansas (2006)

Mentor: Janet Benson, Ph.D.

Since the 1960s there have been reports proclaiming that Asian Americans are "model minorities" because of their disproportionate success in areas such as achieving in academics, receiving higher incomes, and participating in high-status occupations relative to their racial minority contemporaries (Osajima 2000) . However, this is not true to newly arrived Southeast Asian immigrants, who lack the previous human capital to live up to this materialist ideal of economic success. The popular stereotype has masked the struggles of these later Asian immigrants acculturating into American society.

Considering the typecast, this research project aims to study the educational attitudes of Lao students from Southwest Kansas. These students and their families come from a refugee background, where their families escaped the war torn areas of Laos from the neighboring Vietnam War. This study includes cluster of well-developed Lao ethnic communities in relation to the surrounding beef industry in Kansas.