CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: May 2, 2000
UI senior Lana Zak earns Fulbright scholarship
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Lana Zak, University of Iowa senior and former UI student
government president, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Program scholarship
to spend at least one year in Korea, where she'll study the racial identity
of Asian-Americans who have grown up in a mono-ethnic society.
Zak believes this is the first study of its kind to be done, and says she'll
be working mostly on her own after July 5 when she leaves for Korea to conduct
the study, tentatively titled "Through the Looking Glass: Asian-American
Ethnic Identity in a Mono-ethnic Society."
"I believe that people with a multi-racial ethnic identity are the
key to the next level of progress for race relations in the U.S. To this end,
I will be spending the next year trying to understand the racial identity
of someone who is a 'halfzee' like myself, who has grown up in a nation unlike
Zak is from Bettendorf and will graduate this month with a bachelor's degree
in political science and a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications.
"From gaining a better understanding of racial identity, I hope to
later apply this information to uniting races in a shared movement for equality,"
says Zak, who is of Korean and American descent.
The Fulbright Program is designed to foster mutual understanding between
the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Annually,
approximately 4,500 new grants are awarded through national competitions of
students, teachers, scholars and professionals.
Zak chose the topic, she says, because it's important as well as interesting.
"My parents, who are always tremendously supportive, and my predecessors
have shown me the path and have given me the confidence to achieve my goals.
My younger sister's and my hope for future generations give me the determination
to make a difference."
Her initial plans are to spend one year in Korea, and she might exercise
the option to apply for additional funding, available by the up to three-year
renewable scholarship. When Zak returns to the U.S. and her study is complete,
she expects to study public policy, and although she's mulled attending such
schools as Georgetown University, she has not decided on any one just yet,
Zak credits Professor Jae-On-Kim, Center for Asian and Pacific Studies;
Associate Professor Douglas Midgett, anthropology; and her mother, Jane Michong
Zak, as being among the many who helped her arrange her competition portfolio.