The Asian Experience at Bio-Med Science Academy

by McKenna Burchett, staff writer

A map of Eastern Asia hangs on the wall of a Bio-Med classroom. Asian students make up less than 3% of the Ohio student population.

November 2020 – According to Ohio.gov, only 2.6% of enrolled students were of Asian or Pacific Islander descent in the 2018-2019 school year. So, what is it like to be a racial minority of Asian descent in a predominately white school? While the exact statistics for Bio-Med Science Academy are unknown, three Biomed Students of Asian descent went on record about their experiences. Generally, all three of them said that although they haven’t experienced any discrimination at Bio-Med, they would like to see more diversity in the student population and in the curriculum.

One of the students interviewed was Marina Levy. She is of mixed heritage; her grandmother is Taiwanese, and the rest of her family is white. 

“People don’t normally aim [jokes] towards me unless they know I am Asian, usually because they make a joke and I tell them it’s offensive. I am also Jewish so there is a mix of jokes surrounding being smart as an insult. Sometimes because since I do not look Asian they think I will join in on stereotyping until I don’t,” she says.

Another student, Lucas Hagen, who is Japanese, also says that he hasn’t experienced any discrimination at Bio-Med. Actually, being the only racial minority in the room makes him feel special, he said. Any discrimination he’s previously faced was mostly about his eyes, or how he looks different than most people. While he is fine with the racial representation in the curriculum, he thinks “it would just be cool to see a lot more people from different backgrounds and cultures.”

Mona Bondoc is Filipino, and new to Bio-Med this year. “I used to feel pressured to speak when my schoolmates were having discussions about race, as I was one of the only minorities there,” she said.“My old classmates thought that I was super smart and knew everything, so when I didn’t know something, I felt a little guilty.” 

One story of discrimination she shared was of her and an old friend who was Indian. People would get them confused, despite the two of them looking “nothing alike.” She’s also had her achievements undermined due to being Asian, getting told that she only got a good grade on a test because she was Asian.

Overall, at least according to the students who were interviewed, Bio-Med seems to be a friendly environment for people of Asian descent, despite the general lack of diversity in the student body. There seem to be far fewer issues regarding racial discrimination for these minorities, and the students said that the curriculum is generally more inclusive than other schools.

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