Holiday greetings from the ML-SAAF staff, college advice, and more!

Happy Holidays from All of Us at ML-SAAF!

Dear Friend,

As the end of the year draws close, we want to take a moment to sincerely thank you for being a part of our work. There has been a lot to celebrate this past year. Over 1500 youth and parents participated in the ML-SAAF survey, making it the largest of its kind. Many participants have expressed their eagerness to receive survey data, so that they can better understand the dynamics that contribute to the well-being of their families. And, of course, ML-SAAF would not be possible without the enthusiasm of the many researchers, field interviewers, community collaborators, consultants, and research staff that dedicated their time and energy to the project.

In this newsletter, we share survey data about the languages ML-SAAF participants speak at home. We also have an interview with ML-SAAF research assistant Sophie Son, who shares some valuable tips on college admissions. In fact, Sophie's thoughtful insights into college have inspired us to feature a regular column on college-readiness. We encourage all readers to send us any questions you'd like to see answered on the topic at
We wish you a wonderful holiday season and look forward to connecting again soon!
- The ML-SAAF Team


A big thank you to all the survey participants who entered our Amazon gift card raffle. Using a random number generator, we selected ten winners to each receive a $20 Amazon gift card. They are:
  • three participants from Chicago, IL;
  • three participants from the Northwest suburbs;
  • one participant from the West suburbs;
  • two participants from the Southwest suburbs;and
  • one participant from Minnesota.
Congratulations to these winners, who will be contacted via e-mail by ML-SAAF research assistant Xue Gong ( 

Be sure to check future newsletters for additional opportunities to win!
Sophie, circa 2001.
Sophie Son is the youngest staff member at ML-SAAF. Born and raised in Northern Virginia, 
Sophie will graduate from the University of Chicago in 2016 with a major in Sociology. Sophie joined the ML-SAAF team in 2014, and her responsibilities include managing participant data and preparing survey data for content analysis. Below, Sophie  answers a few questions.

What made you interested in the ML-SAAF project?
I think questions of ethnicity and race are always felt in an innate and spontaneous sense, but this often fails to translate into analytical discourse. This study was interesting to me because it provides  st ructures in which people can think about their backgrounds and family relationships in a constructive way. And of course, it was a good opportunity to improve my Korean!

Sophie, circa 2015.
What do you think it takes to be a successful college   
I will say first that the time you put into studying and prepping for tests cannot be ignored, and it teaches you good habits for college. See the scores you build up as the first step; colleges need a way to cut out a certain percentage of the students that have applied and this is where the numbers are important. After that, though, it's all about knowing your audience. Does the school you're applying to have a certain culture? Why would you be a good fit? Do your homework on the colleges you're applying to.

What is one of the more valuable lessons with which you'll leave college?
You are your own best advocate. College is typically a period of self-discovery, and confidence comes out of a lot of doubt and insecurity. This is a slow process. In academics and social situations, it's important to think about yourself and what you want. Trying to make yourself happy isn't selfish. 

What do you envision yourself doing in five years?
I think when I'm not in my summer home in Fiji and rescuing dogs from burning buildings, I will be looking out the windows of my skyscraper. Actually, I feel like my plans are always evolving. I have gotten more interested in computational social science programs, thanks to my involvement in ML-SAAF. I could see myself working at a think tank. 
In our Fall newsletter, we presented study data that showed that the language study participants speak at home is generally linked to whether they think of themselves as Filipino/Korean or American. So what language do most of our participants speak at home and with each other? 

At home and between parent and child, the ML-SAAF survey consistently shows that  Filipinos  speak English at much greater frequencies than do  Koreans . See the charts below for specific data. 

The different rates of English usage pose interesting questions for future studies. For example, w hile Filipino adult participants, on average, have lived in America nearly five more years  than Korean adult participants, does this difference account for the much lower frequencies of English usage in Korean homes? Additionally, is it important that almost all the parents surveyed here were mothers (rather than fathers, who may speak more English)? These questions point to the need for greater scholarship on Asian American families, and we hope that the ML-SAAF survey can help lay the ground for increased investment in Asian American research.
Midwest Longitudinal Study of Asian American Families | The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration  | |