Hmong-American PhD Student Rejected Fellowship Because She’s Asian

October 30, 2021

MARYLAND—Neuroscience Ph.D. student Kao Lee Yang was recently rejected from competing in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s (HHMI) Gilliam Fellowship because she doesn’t fit the eligibility criteria for “Racial/Ethnic Underrepresentation.”

In a series of Tweets, Yang methodically explains what happened and what she thinks about this whole situation.

“This Fellowship requires two levels of nomination before you can even apply/compete. First, your institution has to nominate you to HHMI, then HHMI has to determine you are, indeed, eligible. My institution nominated me. HHMI determined I was not underrepresented.”

“I am an example of the consequences resulting from the continued practice of grouping people with East/Southeast/South Asian heritages underneath the ‘Asian American’ umbrella.”

“The model minority myth perpetuates notions that all Asian Americans are doing well in America, are well-represented in science, etc. But studies making those claims are looking at aggregated data and are treating Asian Americans as a monolithic group.”

Screenshot via Twitter

“We are not a monolithic group. While some Asian Americans are academically successful, others like the Hmong, are underrepresented in STEM and academia in general.”

Yang goes on to state: “I am not saying I should receive this fellowship on the basis of my racial/ethnic group. I am appalled that I was not even allowed to compete for it because I was determined by HHMI to not be underrepresented.”

Feature Images via Twitter & HHMI

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