First-Generation Student Discovers Her Passion in Sociology

Tran Le

Senior sociology and psychology major Tran Le is the 2014 winner of the Vanetta Aaron Undergraduate Student Paper Competition in Race, Class, or Gender.

The paper competition is held among undergraduate sociology majors every year and encourages students to submit their own papers concerning race, class, or gender issues. Winners of the competition are awarded $100 and have their name added to a commemorative plaque. Tran wrote her paper on the impact immigration has on family dynamics among Vietnamese families in Lincoln.

For her research paper, Tran interviewed Vietnamese individuals to obtain their perceptions about how family relationships have been affected by the acculturation experience and stress from adapting to a new culture. The interviews revealed that, on average, individuals reported more negative outcomes associated with the immigration experience than positive outcomes. However, when asked about their current relationships with family members, a number of respondents rated relationships to be neutral and for some, relationships were rated to be more positive.

This research is a pilot-study which Tran hopes to expand upon this summer. In her current follow-up study, Tran hopes to determine the sources of acculturative stress for Vietnamese Americans, as well as how individuals within the families cope with this stress. Though acculturative stress has been studied extensively for some minority groups, Tran believes that this area of study has been overlooked among Asian Americans.

When she first entered UNL, Tran studied Chemistry and had planned on entering medical school upon graduation. However, after seriously considering her passions, Tran decided to explore different career options by taking classes which sounded interesting to her.

“Before I knew it, I found myself taking a lot of sociology and psychology courses related to social inequality,” Tran said. “Once I was in my junior year, I figured I’d be a fool to not declare myself a double major. So in a way, my becoming a sociology and psychology major was kind of a stroke of luck.”

Tran admits that she had a hard time switching majors, but she is very happy that she did.

“As a first-generation student, you’re under a lot of pressure to make the most of the opportunities you’re given. In the end, I’m so glad I took the road less travelled. Everyone I have met along the way have made all the difference: my family, friends, professors, and both the Sociology and Psychology departments all have my deepest gratitude.”

After graduating, Tran plans on attending graduate school in the hopes of continuing her research endeavors.

Story by Lane Chasek

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