Not Overrepresented: The Model Minority Stereotype at an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution
Rimando, Rosannette Hernandez
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For too long, Asian American and Pacific Islander students in higher education have been subjected to the persistent assumptions of the "model minority" myth which says that they are uniformly successful, industrious, and without need for support. They have become the most visible community of color in higher education whose needs go almost entirely unseen. The consequence of this neglect is evident in the achievement gaps only visible in disaggregated data. But the histories and narratives that illustrate these differences are rarely used by colleges and universities to make informed decisions about this population. Fortunately, there is much promise in the U.S. Department of Education's newest Minority-Serving Institution designation: Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions. First designated in 2008, AANAPISIs are funded to develop programs that address the needs of AAPI students. Six institutions were initially identified to pilot this effort, and today 14 institutions have been designated AANAPISIs, and federal funding has been committed through 2016 to continue. This is the first federal effort to address AAPI needs in higher education.This case study examines the experience of one AANAPISI pilot, South Seattle Community College. I examine the experience of a college becoming an AANAPISI, and explore the strategies implemented and the outcomes realized from this effort. Because of my own role at the college, I utilize analytic autoethnography to include my own voice, experience and perspective in the case study. Critical race theory provides an effective framework to examine issues of race, seek out narratives, challenge long-held assumptions, and broaden the discussion of the findings to consider how a federal race-conscious initiative can have a transformational impact on a campus. The findings reveal a college that struggled with institutional change through this process, while also grappling with the meaning of race and how it impacts service to AAPI student populations. The implications for this research are multifold, and touch practice, policy, research and methodology. They ultimately point to a continued need for higher education to reconsider assumptions about AAPI students, and provide better service and support that acknowledges the needs of this population.