Perrin Thompson, “Hmong Women in Leadership: Creating a Multicultural Identity While Preserving Traditions in the Modern Age.”


Dr. Deborah Pembleton, Emerging Scholars Program

What inspired you to select your research topic? 

At the beginning of the year, I applied and was accepted into the Emerging Scholars Program at CSB/SJU. Through this program, I was paired with a mentor who had similar interests as I did. This mentor happened to be Professor Deborah Pembleton from the Global Business Leadership Department. I was and still am a biology major on a pre-medicine track but was paired with Prof. Pembleton because of my extensive background in leadership. At our first meeting, she explained that she was very interested in the Hmong culture and I told her that I was interested in minority women in leadership positions. We combined these together to get the research topic of "Hmong women in leadership." I was inspired by Prof. Pembleton's enthusiasm and passion for this topic and was encaptured by the differences in the Hmong culture and my own. Once I began researching, I immediately wanted to know more.

Which of CSB/SJU's five learning goals applies to your experience conducting research?

Although I think that all five learning goals could be applied to my research experience, I believe that embracing difference best describes my project. I came from a predominantly white high school and had very little exposure to other cultures other than my own before coming to college. The core of embracing difference is being able "to learn from, respect, and work with people whose identity and perspective are different from my own" and this research experience has challenged me to do this. I was pushed to learn about a culture that I had no previous information or conceptions about and also learn how the people of this culture view the world. 

What advice would you give to future CSB/SJU students that want to participate in undergraduate research or creative work? 

My advice to future CSB/SJU research students is to be open to all avenues of your topic--don't limit yourself. Sometimes an interview will spiral in a completely new direction, sometimes you will come across a connection that you never thought of before, sometimes you'll find a source that completely tears apart your research--don't discount any of this! Let the new information flow and take all of it into consideration. By doing this, you will make more connections and you will end up with a better final product.