I Am Not Your Model Minority
By Kathy Nguyen
Asian American students have done it once again; Getting a good education and going to a top university and getting a college degree. Asian American students are viewed as a Model Minority because they are academically successful than other racial minority groups. Asian Americans students are considered a “shining example” of hard work, grit and determination whose other minority groups should follow. Our society believes that Asian American students are recognized as the Model Minority because of their Asian cultural values towards a high education. However, society is blind to see that not all Asian Americans student represent the Model Minority image. There are Asian Americans who do not get accepted or go to prestigious school and don’t have a college degree. Therefore, the Model Minority image of Asian Americans is practically a myth.
Asian American students actually have a disadvantage in college admissions because of the “positive stereotype” of going to prestigious universities. This “positive stereotype” is causing Asian American students to become “extra Asian” in order to fill in the spots at prestigious universities such as Harvard, UCLA or even UC Berkeley. Asian Americans students have to invest in themselves to become the shiny gold hiding beneath the silver stones. I didn’t have the over 4.0 G.P.A, over 250 volunteer hours, president of a club, captain of the volleyball team, or extra curricular elements that other successful Asian American students crave to have on their college applications. So what do you call Asian American students that are the “silver stones” that don’t go to top universities and go to community colleges or CSU universities? Does that make them “less Asian” or not even Asian at all? Stepping on the campus of California State University of Northridge in Fall 2014, thoughts of “why is this Asian girl here? I guess she didn’t get accepted to UCLA” always linger around me when I pass by the eyes of other racial students. I felt that I wasn’t the Asian student that I should be.
Unable to pay out of pocket of over $20,000 per year for college tuition at top universities causes Asian American students to give up their seat and go to community colleges like Pierce College or CSU universities like CSUN. Not going to top universities shouldn’t make Asian American students feel that they are “worthless.” My Asian friend got accepted to UCLA but denied his acceptance because the college tuition was too high and currently goes to CSUN. Financial problems is one factor that causes Asian American students to only have the option of studying at affordable college or universities. I don’t want Asian American students to feel discouraged and ashamed just because society believes community colleges or CSU universities are “weak,” “easy to get into,” and a “back up plan.” The money just wasn’t there, but the grit, determination, and work ethic is instilled in them.
The Asian culture highly values education because getting a college degree is the key to success. However, there are Asian Americans who are successful without the need of a college degree. For example, there are Vietnamese nail salons owners who don’t have a college degree and make as much as doctors. There are Chinese real estate investors who don’t have a college degree and control the real estate industry in the San Gabriel valley. There are Indian programmers that don’t have a college degree and make their own iPhone game app that millions of people are using. Asian Americans shouldn’t be trapped in this idea that having a college degree is the only route to success because it’s not. I believe that talent and skill is the new “college degree.” Do what you love, and success and money will follow.
Asian American students shouldn’t feel obligated to live up to the Model Minority image of the “positive stereotype” of academic success such as getting a good education, getting into prestigious schools and getting a college degree in order to be successful. They may feel pressured, distressed and discouraged if they don’t meet up to these standards. Most importantly, I hope society can accept the fact that not all Asian American students are always the shiny gold, but some are silver stones.