Genda Lee is an Exercise Science major with a Psychology minor at the University of St. Thomas. She is an active member in their on campus Hmong United Student Association (HUSA). Currently, she is coaching her high school badminton team. Lee plans to go into Physical Therapy because she enjoys supporting Athletes.
“I’ve talked about when I introduce myself, when people ask me what race are you? I always go I’m Hmong-American, I always hyphenate it for some reason. And I think it’s because like to me American means freedom, and independence, while Hmong means tradition and family. So like I use these two cultures and build who I am. So I want to be independent when I grow up, but I also really rely on my family. I keep my traditions alive and go to the Hmong New Year and stuff like that. I also want to be free, free to make my own decisions in a way. I think of these two- being a Hmong American has helped me decide what I want to do in life.”
“When I think of a good daughter I’m thinking from a Hmong perspective. Listing somethings on top of my head: being able to uh.. well getting a higher education so you can provide for yourself one day, know how to do your chores, and knowing how to help your cousins and your relatives and your family members so that you can still uphold either your father’s name or when you get married your husband’s name. And I think my parents still believe that I should still listen to my husband in a way.. But to me being a good daughter is getting a higher education and being able to provide for my parents, and myself. So for them a good daughter is more different, traditional.”
“I think that there’s no other Hmong woman who is interested in the same job I am, so I don’t have anyone to look up to. It’s really hard when you have no inspiration other than yourself to keep yourself going… Other than being a woman, which is really hard itself, like being Asian there’s certain expectations which I think makes it really hard too. Or like certain things that you are expected to do like stereotypes that you are supposed to be good at math, you’re supposed to be quiet and I think that’s how some classmates portray me… but in group project I’m really outspoken. That makes them think ‘Whoa this Asian girl is not quiet.'”
“It’s really hard for me because personally because my parents don’t understand that there’s so much that goes into college and so like I still have to hold up my Hmong roles when i go home, and I still have to look after my siblings, cook and clean on the weekends. Sometimes I’m like no I have an exam on Monday and I can’t do that but it’s really hard because this is my expected role, that I have to do this. It’s also really hard because college is so difficult that trying to find ways to incorporate clubs and orgs into my life. When they have events I want to stay later, or I want to go to events on weekends and my parents are like “well you don’t have to go” and their reason is because you are a woman, we don’t want anything to happen to you.”
“Definitely a place where I’m not too far from my family… The reason why I decided to go to St. Thomas was because it’s closer to home, so whenever I need anything, I can just ask my sisters or my mom and dad because I’m so dependent on them. Close to home, an environment that has my friends.. I went to a high school with majority Hmong students, but coming to a university where the demographics changed was really hard for me because I was the only Hmong person in class. I was the only Hmong person with my major (Exercise Science). “
“For advice there are just so many obstacles, in my years of being at St. Thomas here, I’ve grown so much. I’ve grown to understand that gender roles are- I think it’s one of the biggest problem that I want to fight all the time. Because my parents would never understand that I am a woman but I am capable as much as a man is. I think that is like the hardest part because my parents are everything that motivates me. They are such an important factor in my life but they don’t understand that I am just as capable… So always fight those gender roles because you will get so much further in life. And being a woman, you are so capable, and so strong and so beautiful. You don’t need someone to tell you that but yourself… Don’t give up! “