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McNair Scholar 2010Lidiya Girma

Lidiya Girma is an undergraduate student double majoring in political science and sociology. Her research interests include immigration policy and human rights as well as the effect of mental illness in the African refugee community.

Lidiya Girma photo
My dream is to earn a graduate degree and work to advocate for the improvement of immigrant and minority rights. I seek to identify and prevent discriminatory policies that hinder the progress of minority groups and leave them vulnerable to exploitation. Marginalized groups need to be given a voice and that is what I want my work to reflect.

Research project

Feeling Foreign in the 'Burbs: Differing Receptions of Liberian and Somali Immigrants in Brooklyn Center/Park

Abstract: Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park have experienced large demographic shifts in the past decade that show a decrease in white residents and a dramatic increase in their immigrant population. This change has received mixed reactions. While the rise of diversity is celebrated, concern over the effects of minorities on crime rates, housing prices, and quality of life are prevalent. A sizable portion of the foreign born in Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park are refugees, including Liberians and Somalis. These two African communities have come to Minnesota seeking protection from civil conflict in their homelands and for new beginnings. However, the social reception of these immigrants differs. This case study provides preliminary observations of how the Somali and Liberian communities have been constructed as either “good” or “bad” and how these perceptions affect their adjustment in the suburbs. This study will also discuss the educational and residential segregation of suburban school districts and its consequences on immigrant minorities’ access to quality instruction. Download poster. [PDF]

Faculty profile

Lisa Sun-Hee Park is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota and the author of several academic works including Silicon Valley of Dreams and Consuming Citizenship. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from Northwestern University and has taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder as well as the University of California, San Diego. She specializes in Asian American studies, immigrant women’s healthcare, welfare policy, and immigration policy.