who are hmong?: the minority among the minorities
who are hmong?: the minority among the minorities
The Minority Among Minorities:
Success Factors Surrounding
Hmong College Students
Dr. Donna Talbot, Peter K.X. Xiong, and Jason Atherton
Dr. Donna Talbot
Peter K.X. Xiong
An understanding who Hmong college students are and how
they differ from other Asian American ethnicities.
An understanding of current barriers that Hmong college
An understanding of strategies that affect Hmong college
An understanding of the implication of this study and further
studies on Hmong American college students.
How We Got Started
EDLD 6890: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Higher
Education at Western Michigan University.
Underrepresented and underserved population: Lack of
Hmong research in higher education.
Xiong, S., & Lee, S. E. (2011). Hmong students in higher
education and academic support programs article sparked
interest and foundation.
Who Are Hmong Americans?
Considered to be the aboriginals of China and settled
around 3000 B.C.
Emigrated south to the regions of Southeast Asia
(Vietnam, Laos, Burma, and Thailand).
Allies to the U.S. during the Vietnam War: Aided the CIA in
Secret War in Laos
Three waves of immigration to U.S.
Who Are Hmong Americans? (cont.)
US Census data:
1990 - 94,439
2000 - 186,310
2010 - 260,073
CA, MN, and WI consisted of 87% of total Hmong
American students enrolled in school in 2010 (Xiong,
Enrollment patterns in higher education: Public-95% vs
Hmong American students receive little to no help with their
academics (Pfeifer, 2005; Xiong and Lee, 2011).
Hmong parents are often non-English speakers; this fact
poses a language barrier (Pfeifer, 2005).
Hmong American students may often experience a sense of
cultural dissonance in their social identities (Cheryan & Tsai,
The Model Minority Stereotype
Homogenizes the Asian American population, masking the
diversity within Asian American communities due to social class,
religion, language, ethnicity, migratory status, length of
residence, and education.
General image of what Americans perceive of Asian Americans as
The Model Minority creates a false impression that Hmong
Americans students are the stereotype high academic achieving
students who are well off.
Current Status of Hmong in Education
Hmong Americans with a H.S. diploma or equivalent 27.2%
compared to U.S. population 49.7% (Pfeifer, 2005).
Hmong Americans with an associate or bachelor’s degree 11.7% and
1.5% with graduate degrees, compared to U.S. population 21.9%
and 8.9% (Yang & Pfeifer, 2004).
Similar to other Southeast Asian populations, 18.5% Hmong
families live in poverty (Lee, 2007).
Hmong college students have reported being underprepared for
college (Xiong & Lee, 2011).
What challenges do Hmong college students face in
obtaining a Higher Education degree?
How welcome do Hmong college students feel on their
What do Hmong college students report as helping them to
Demographics of Study
Criteria for being included in the study:
(1) of Hmong descent;
(2) attending a public 4-year institution;
(3) located in Minnesota, Wisconsin or California;
(4) between ages 18-23 years old
Total number of student respondents= 178
Total number of students in clean data= 127
Number of males=37 (29%); number of females= 90 (71%)
Demographics of Study (cont.)
States in which students attended higher education
Year in school:
39% indicated they were affiliated with any
religious/spiritual student organization
29% said they were the first in family to pursue a
First Generation: 8.7%
1.5 Generation: 17.3%
Second Generation: 73.2%
Third Generation: 0.8%
80% of student participants were born in the U.S.
Parent’s level of education
Do not know
College choice and experiences
Why did you decide to attend college?
47.6% indicated it was a personal goal
13.7% indicated pressure from parents/family
16.1% said career goals
Hours worked per week:
30.6% worked 11-20 hours
32.3% did not work
GPA and Study Habits…
GPA and Study Habits…
Description of campus experiences
Over 62% of participants felt safe on campus
Over 61% of students felt neutral about or agreed
that they felt welcome in the residence halls
41.8% of students report using an academic support
Challenges in Higher Education
More than 50% of participants reported the
following as challenges:
Lack of money
Lack of time to study
Lack of direction for career goals
Responsibilities at home
My college campus is well represented by
…students (over 50% agreed or strongly agreed)
…staff/administrators (44% disagreed or
strongly disagreed; 29.6% were neutral)
…faculty (34.8% disagreed or strongly
disagreed; 36.5% were neutral)
Themes from data:
What challenges do you face:
Lack of preparation
Disconnect from Hmong community
Lack of Hmong role models
Qualitative Results (cont.)
What are some ways you receive support:
Family (parents and siblings)
Inspiration from parents and elders history of
Academic success programs
What are you seeing as the experiences of
Hmong college students on your campus?
What type of success programs or initiatives do
you have that directly involve Hmong college
Our recommendations based on findings
Need to have a student organization to identify with (Hmong,
Southeast Asian, or Asian)
Hmong education and cultural awareness (Hmong excluded in
Institutions and community outreach to educate Hmong parents
regarding college due to language barrier (admissions, financial
Financial barriers need to be addressed with scholarships and
Limitations of the study
Did not include 2-year institutions and 4-year private institutions
Focused only on traditional aged students (18-24 years)
Focused on only three states: CA, MN, & WI
Uneven distribution among the three states
Mostly female participates
Used student organizations as a way to contact students
Only five articles can be found with a focus on Hmong college
students from 1996 to 2010 (Xiong & Lam, 2013)
Explore 2-year institutions and 4-year private institutions
Out-of-state vs. In-state
Focus on other states (e.g. North Carolina)
Include both involved and uninvolved students
Identify transfer students
Questions, Comments, Feedback
Dr. Donna Talbot ([email protected])
Peter K.X. Xiong ([email protected])
*Email Peter for more information or copy of the PowerPoint
Jason Atherton ([email protected])
Chou, R. S., & Feagin, J. R. (2008). The myth of the model minority: Asian
Americans facing racism. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.
Cheryan, S., & Tsai, J. L. (2007). Ethnic identity. In F.T. L. Leong, A. G. Inman,
A. Ebreo, L. H.
Her, V. K., & Buley-Meissner, M. L. (2006). Why would we want these
students here?: Barriers to building to campus community partnerships.
Hmong Studies Journal, 7, 1-43.
Huffcutt, M. (2010). American Hmong Youth and College Readiness:
Integrating Culture and Educational Success (Master's thesis). Retrieved
Pascarella, E., & Terenzini, P. (1998). Studying college students in the 21st
century: Meeting new challenges. Review of Higher Education, 21(2), 151165.
Xiong, S., & Lee, S. E. (2011). Hmong students in higher education and
academic support programs. Hmong Studies Journal, 12, 1-20.
Yang, K. (2001). Becoming American: The Hmong American experience.
Yang, L. Kinoshita, & M. Fu (Eds.), Handbook of Asian American Psychology,
2nd ed., pp.125-139. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE publication.
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MARCH 30-APRIL 2