More than 30 percent of Asian students in Oklahoma City Public Schools are considered gifted and talented, a label reserved for the highest-performing students.
Less than 10 percent of students in every other minority group fit the same bill. Several Asian students at Classen School of Advanced Studies shared their motivations for striving , and all referred to their family culture. First is a respect for parents. Seanette Ting, 16, a junior, said her family always eats dinner together, even if extracurricular activities force them to eat as early as 5 p.m. or as late as 9 p.m. Respect for parents comes in another form, as well — understanding their sacrifices. "My mom wants me to do really good because my parents were too poor to afford instruments and too poor to go to college,” said seventh-grader Doo-Yun Her, 12, a first-generation Korean-American. Seanette is also a first-generation American, of Chinese heritage, who said her parents’ tales make her appreciate the opportunities she has. Asian students also feel a need to live up to family members. Seanette’s brother, 14-year-old freshman Oliver Ting, said he tries to model himself after her. The same is true of junior Macvictor Nguyen, 16, who said his parents care if he scores lower than siblings on an exam. "They say, ‘Oh, good job; that’s still a pretty high score.’ But you can tell they’re disappointed, so you just study harder to make them happier,” he said. Sometimes the pressure can be tough, but Macvictor, who is Vietnamese and also a first-generation American, is thankful for his parents’ prodding. "In our families, it’s just, we have different standards,” he said.