Undergraduate Student Projects

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Erica Than Khaine
4th year
Quantitative Economics Major

Project: SEA College Clearly: Opportunities and Barriers to Southeast Asian Americans Pursuing Higher Education

This research project explores the current educational policies and its effect on Southeast Asian American youth and how to better improve college access.  These students were selected because of their participation in one or more of the 2013-2016 SEA Success Youth Conferences or Southeast Asian Leaders Program. They will be asked to participate in an interview regarding their experience as a high school student perusing a college education. The purpose of this research project is to challenge the current policies regarding minorities in higher education and to find the greatest challenges of Southeast Asian American youth in terms of college access. This research specifically looks into the effects of college preparedness conferences and programs.
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Jonathan Agena
3rd year 
Asian American Studies major / Film & Media Studies minor

Project: #AAIronFist: A Study on Asian American Representation and Superhero-Race Power Dynamics in U.S. Television and Film

Hi! My name is Jonathan and I am currently studying the #AAIronFist controversy and how it ties into the lack of Asian American representation in U.S. television and film. Basically, in early 2015, the comic book company, Marvel, announced a new Netflix series on its lesser-known, martial arts superhero, Iron Fist. This news led many to hope that Marvel would cast an Asian American actor to take on the role as a way to update the character and lend an opportunity for Asian Americans to shine in media. However, Marvel chose instead to cast a white actor, resulting in backlash from the Asian American community. Critics called the decision racially-biased and ignorant of the lack of Asian American representation in media, while defendants claimed that it is important for Iron Fist to be white and for Marvel to proceed with whatever artistic choices it desires. My research will focus on addressing these defendants’ claims, as well as investigate as to why there is resistance towards having Asian actors take on lead roles, especially in superhero-related media. 
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Pauline Nguyen
3rd Year
Comparative Literature

Project: Nguyen Thi Ve, The First Female Judge of South Vietnam:  How Education, War, and Law Shaped Her Life

Topic of Research: I am conducting research on my grandmother, Nguyen Thi Ve, the first female judge of Vietnam. I am examining her life and career against the backdrop of the political changes happening in Vietnam during the 20th century. I aim to study her path to higher education, her career, and the repercussions of her career, in order to understand what it meant to be a Vietnamese career woman during war time. I hope to add to the near nonexistent conversation about Vietnamese career women during this time period. This project is also incredibly personal to me, as it allows me to become closer to my grandmother whom I have been separated from within the Vietnamese diaspora. It also allows me to better understand my family history and preserve her story for years to come.