Document Type

Senior Honors Project

Publication Date



“Assimilation” is used to describe how immigrants adapt and integrate into the culture and society of the new country (Gordon 1964). The literature on assimilation often focuses on how higher education functions as a way to assimilate immigrants into the dominant culture. The literature is primarily about social mobility and not enough attention has been given to the subjective aspect of assimilation. The purpose of my study is to better understand and explore the lived-realities of second-generation Hmong-American women. How do Hmong-American women come to understand their identities? How does higher education influence this process of identity development? Five second-generation Hmong-American women were interviewed for this study. In analyzing their stories I found that the themes of difference and agency were common in their stories. Based on what I found, I would argue that higher education does not completely assimilate Hmong-American women because of their desire to remain connected to their community and the sense of agency they demonstrate in negotiating difference and reconstructing their identities.


Women's Studies