Each year, the Department of Asian American Studies awards a research grant, the Jeffrey S. Tanaka Asian American Studies Grant, to a graduate or PhD student whose work centers around Asian Americans. This year, our winner was Jacqueline Yi, a PhD candidate in Clinical-Community Psychology.
Jacqueline Yi’s dissertation study is an in-depth, qualitative examination of activism among Asian American college students. The study’s purpose is to develop a nuanced understanding of Asian Americans’ definitions, perspectives, motivations, and barriers for activism and to explore how these aspects of activism may interconnect in the lived experiences of Asian American college students. Informed by theories on ecological environments (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Trickett, 1996), this dissertation will examine how Asian Americans understand and engage in activism, and how these may relate to experiences with micro-level contexts (e.g., peers, families, their college campus), and existing within macro-level contexts (e.g., U.S. racial system, the model minority myth).
Thus far, twenty Asian American college students participated in semi-structured interviews. To increase trustworthiness of the data and the interpretation of findings (Morrow, 2005), Jacqueline will engage in a process of member-checking by interviewing ten additional participants to ask for their perspectives on study findings. Funding from the 2020-2021 Tanaka Asian American Studies Grant has allowed for participant incentives, transcription, and other materials and resources to facilitate these additional interviews.
Overall, this dissertation will contribute to the literature by providing a nuanced examination of the interconnections among various aspects of Asian American students’ ecological environments and how this shapes their understanding of and engagement in activism.
Our congratulations and best wishes go out to Jacqueline as she pursues her research and doctorate. We eagerly anticipate her contributions to the field and literature of Asian American Studies.