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McNair Scholar 2017Susan Phetsamone

Susan Phetsamone is a rising senior at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities studying Sociology and Family Social Science. Her research interests include mental illness in underrepresented communities. After she completes her undergraduate degree, Susan plans to continue her education by pursuing a master’s degree in Student Personnel and Counseling.

Phetsamone photo
My dream is to go back to North Minneapolis and provide mental illness counseling to individuals and families that are underrepresented. I aspire to spread awareness on mental illness and the importance of receiving treatment in the Asian and immigrant communities.

Research project

Youth: Threats to Communities vs. Rising Stars

Abstract: The Kids Involvement and Diversity Study (KIDS) examines the role of out-of-school activities on youth social development and the effects it has on the youth’s future success in the United States. This study examines how out-of-school activities can both promote positive youth outcomes, as well as reinforce social inequalities. One of the gaps in the KIDS project is that it has not yet analyzed if and how the language of youth programs’ mission statements differ in urban and suburban areas. The mission statements of the programs are reflective of how the program themselves perceive the youth they are serving. This research will conduct a qualitative analysis that compares the mission statements of urban and suburban programs. The research hypothesizes that the mission statements of urban programs will not positively characterize youth, but will in fact negatively label them. Findings indicate that mission statements in low income communities with larger proportion of people of color include oppressive language that labels youth as potential risks to society, while mission statements of youth programs in more wealthy and predominantly white communities use developmental language that characterizes youth as promising and productive future members of society. Labeling theory is applied to consider the implications of the different characterizations of youth to their emerging self-concepts and the development of double consciousness. Download poster. [PDF]

Faculty profile

Dr. Teresa Swartz is currently a professor in the Sociology and Asian American Studies program at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Swartz received her Bachelor’s of Art in Psychology in 1988 from University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Swartz pursued a Master’s degree in Sociology from University of California, San Diego in 1994. She continued her education, pursuing a Ph.D in Sociology from University of California, San Diego in 2001. Her research interest includes families, intergenerational relations, social inequality, Welfare State and Youth and Young Adulthood. She published multiple publications; the most recent publication of Dr. Swartz was “Parental Assistance, Negative Events, and Attainment During the Transition to Adulthood”.