By the Burmese American Community Institute
A recent study released by the Burmese American Community Institute (BACI) at its 12th Annual Research Presentation confirms the college rate among Burmese Americans this year maintained the pre-pandemic level of 88 percent, while maintaining over a 90 percent college rate and a 95 percent college persistence rate in the past five years.
“We are delighted to see the continued success of Burmese American students with their higher education performance in the United States,” said Lian Sang, director of the Institute’s Upward College Programs which helps prepare high school students for their college readiness and success.
The study also shows that as of June 30, 188,095 Burmese refugees have been admitted to the United States since 2000. While over 40,000 Burmese individuals are residing in Indiana, nearly 30,000 of them are calling Indianapolis their new home. The overall Burmese population in the U.S. is estimated to be over 322,000.
Thirty-nine researchers who presented their research findings and solution-oriented policy recommendations on eight different topics restated the importance of assessing the socioeconomic status of the Burmese community by innovative research and evaluation and that they hope the facts and information will help partners and decision makers as they formulate policies for action.
In his remarks, BACI Executive Director Elaisa Vahnie congratulated the researchers and thanked research advisors, parents and all partners and said, “the young leaders and scholars have not just produced an impactful research and knowledge product within such a short period of time, but they are already leading us to solving some of the most pressing problems that our shared community and our world are facing.
“We are grateful for the leadership locally and nationally and to the American people for welcoming and allowing the Burmese to start our new lives and to succeed. The success and positive impact we are seeing today are a testament of the collaborative partnership we have been able to forge,” Vahnie said.
“Moving forward, we are committed to strengthening our partnerships in further transforming our community locally, as Indiana must continue to lead the U.S. effort to achieve democracy, peace and prosperity in Myanmar in a win-win situation.”
In addition to maintaining a 100% post-secondary education enrollment rate for those students who successfully completed the Upward College Programs, BACI has been working to empower new Americans through English, civic education and naturalization assistance, as well as assisting the community members with their gainful employment and microenterprise development service provisions as they are becoming fully engaged and contributing citizens.
Indiana State Refugee and Executive Outreach Director Matthew Schomburg reflected in his remarks that over the years Burmese refugees in Indiana have contributed, making it one of the most successful refugee resettlement sites across the U.S. and that particularly the BACI has played a critical role in assisting refugees in becoming self-sufficient and being a part of the Hoosier state.
Burmese American Community Month
In July, Governor Eric J. Holcomb, governor of the State of Indiana, proclaimed July 2023 as Burmese American Community Month, recognizing the contributions and achievements of the Burmese living in Indiana, part of which reads “the growing Burmese population has been actively participating in our state’s economy, high educational performance and vibrant cultural diversity thereby continuing to enrich the Hoosier communities across the state and making Indiana a better place for all.”
This year’s topics of research included: College Going Rate Among Burmese American Students, College Persistence Among Burmese American Students, Community Integration and Political Participation, Equal Employment Opportunity & Career Pathways, Global Climate Change and Its Impact on the Local Communities, Mental Health in the Burmese American Community, Social Media & Its Impact on the Youths, and U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program and Secondary Migration.
The BACI summer project also estimated that nationally 600+ Burmese Americans graduated from American colleges and universities and 2,000 from high schools respectively in 2023.
At the event, BACI Board Vice Chair San Thang invited members of our community, friends, and neighbors to nominate persons and/or organizations who have contributed to the transformation of the Burmese community in the past 30 years, brought significant positive impact on our shared community, as well as demonstrated exceptional success in their education, career, and/or service in many different ways. Nominations open until August 31, 2023.
The winners and nominees will be recognized at the Community Awards Dinner on Sept. 28 as part of a celebration of 30 Years of the Burmese Community in Central Indiana.
BACI Chair Dr. Ro Ding in his closing remarks urged all partners and members of the community to continue working together in furthering the shared mission of building a stronger and better community for all.
Hosted at the University of Indianapolis, the event was attended by nearly 200 community members, faith and civic leaders, partners, including parents and representatives from various educational institutions, as well as government and nonprofit agencies.