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AANHPI Heritage Month: Q&A With Featured Research Trainee, Dieu Truong

Published on
May 6, 2022
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Dieu Truong

The May Featured Research Trainee for AANHPI Heritage Month is Dieu Truong.

Editor's Note: For Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI), Heritage Month, our Featured Research Trainee for May is Dieu Truong. Truong is a psychology intern focusing on autism spectrum disorders and will be starting a postdoctoral fellowship in the Center for Autism Research (CAR) under the mentorship of Judith Miller, PhD, MS. Truong also will finish her doctoral program at the University of Houston this summer. In this Q&A, Truong discusses her research, her experiences at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the importance of recognizing AANHPIs' contributions to society.

Q: What message do you hope people take away from celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month?

Celebrating the annual AANHPI Heritage Month in May recognizes the contributions of AANHPIs in America's progress toward becoming a global power today. Congress signed the public law in 1992 designating May as the annual AANHPI Heritage Month to recognize the first transcontinental railroad in the U.S., an architectural marvel in America's modern history completed by 20,000 Chinese immigrants in May 1986.

Generations of AANHPIs contributed to America's rich history, from Wong Kim Ark's battle for birthright citizenship, Larry Itliong advancing labor rights, and the fight for civil rights and social justice in solidarity with other ethnically minoritized groups. President Biden's Proclamation on AANHPI Heritage Month acknowledged the contributions of AANHPIs throughout U.S. history including during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the pandemic also brought out again the ugly narrative of xenophobia and anti-Asian racism in our country's history. The ongoing anti-Asian racist violence during the pandemic has traumatized many AANHPI families and youths and led to the loss of lives of most revered members in our communities — our elderly parents and grandparents.

The message I hope people take away from celebrating the AANHPI Heritage Month is to explore and learn about the story of AANHPIs. Our CHOP community can start by learning about the story of AANHPIs' resilience, perseverance, and triumphs in Philadelphia. The beginning of Philadelphia's Chinatown at the 900 block of Race Street serves as the symbol of AANHPIs' ability to resist, persist, and survive one of the deadliest periods of anti-Asian hate in the U.S. history. To acknowledge the rich often untold AANHPI history in Philadelphia, a local public TV program created a four-episode series of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: A Philadelphia Story. Another five-part documentary series by the Public Broadcasting Service tells the contributions and challenges of AANHPIs throughout U.S. history.

Q: What are some research projects you are currently working on? Why is your work important?

My postdoctoral position with CAR, starting this summer, will be a clinical research position working with Dr. Judith Miller's many research projects, including Project Early. This is a follow-up study of children's current functioning at the elementary school level after they were screened for autism as toddlers.

My additional research projects focus on understanding the intersectionality of Southeast Asian cultural values and historical and ongoing systemic racism against Asian and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAAPI) communities. For instance, my dissertation is an international large-scale measurement variance study focusing on illuminating the experience of parents caring for autistic children in a low-to-middle income country with a socialist government and a Buddhist- and Confucian-oriented cultural system.

I also have published research focusing on integrating social justice in the field of school psychology. AANHPIs' voice is forcefully excluded from the disproportionality discourse, resulting in the systematic erasure of AANHPIs' actual health and mental health needs.

Q: What are some of the most salient training experiences you've had at CHOP thus far?

Some of the most salient training experiences I have had at CHOP include developing the needed clinical skill to competently identify different neurodevelopmental diagnoses, including autism spectrum disorder. More importantly, I am grateful to learn from my supervisors how they consistently conceptualize their patient care through a strength-based approach and prioritize the celebration of neurodiversity.

Q: Aside from research, what do you consider your biggest accomplishment?

Being a daughter of an immigrant family, seeing how my parents sacrificed a comfortable life to come to a foreign country where they will never be accepted for me to have a better education, leaves a strong impression in my heart. Hence, my biggest accomplishment will be to make my parents proud, and this motivates me to always work and strive for success.

Q: What do you do for fun when you're not working?

I enjoy FaceTiming my parents and my boyfriend to check in with them daily, reading graphic novels, researching new restaurants, and learning how to cook a new dish!