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Thoughts of The Little Brown GirlThoughts of The Little Brown Girl

Wednesday, October 25, 2023  |  3:00-4:30 PM Central Time  |  Free  

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Students representing historically marginalized communities who attend predominantly white institutions continue to face race- and ethnicity-focused challenges in the field of higher education. When examining the experiences of Asian Americans at predominantly white institutions, the monolithic approach tends to overlook South Asian students within the diaspora. As acknowledged in the poem, "Thoughts of the Little Brown Girl" by Durga Sritharan, the author highlights the internal struggles of racial and ethnic discrimination as a Sri Lankan-American student navigating predominantly white spaces. Coupled with the Asian American Identity Development Model, Sritharan's poem illustrates her progression towards a renewed connection with her ethnic identity. However, the Model Minority myth, the art of code-switching, and the lack of representation at predominantly white institutions continue to inhibit the personal identity development of many South Asian students. This presentation session will address the systemic and systematic barriers that negatively impact the experiences of South Asian students, analyze the Asian American Identity Development Model, and highlight the importance of creating inclusive spaces and initiatives in higher education. 


Durga V. Sritharan, BS

Durga Sritharan (she/her/hers) is a recent graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. In addition, Sritharan has actively participated in undergraduate research studying the relationship between music and motor control for persons with Parkinson's disease. Iowa State University recognized Sritharan as a member of the 2022 Cardinal Court in recognition of her academic achievement, campus and community involvement, and overall character. In 2021, she was selected to participate in the Summer Health Professions Education Program at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. This nationally recognized program focuses on the academic proficiency and career development of students underrepresented in health professions.

As a George Washington Carver Scholarship Program and Academy scholar and NCORE-ISCORE Project scholar, Sritharan has conducted research on various topics surrounding race and ethnicity, including activism in the music industry, colorism in the workplace, and generational trauma guiding mistrust in Western healthcare. In 2021, Sritharan was invited to present at the First Amendment Days hosted by the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Iowa State University. In 2022, she presented at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) in Portland, Oregon. During her undergraduate tenure, she presented at the Iowa State Conference on Race and Ethnicity (ISCORE) each year. Additionally, her poem, """"Thoughts of The Little Brown Girl"""", presented at the 2022 ISCORE, was selected for publication in the Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity. Throughout her involvement in the aforementioned programs, she was selected as a recipient of the 2022 Multicultural Student Affairs Leadership Excellence Award and the 2023 NCORE-ISCORE Brenda Jones Change Agent Award.

Sritharan intends to attend medical school and become a physician in a pediatric-related field. As a professional, her aspirations include working with children and parents/guardians in diverse communities.

Important Details:

  • Download the latest version of Zoom on your device BEFORE the webinar begins. Launch and sign into Zoom, click on your profile picture (top right corner) and select Check for Updates. 
  • A recording will be sent to registrants approximately one week after the webinar.
  • Live captions and sign language interpretation provided. Email for assistance.


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