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    Lt. Louie - One Asian American's Story

    Lt. Louie - One Asian American's Story

    Photo By Emily Swedlund | GROTON, Conn. (May 24, 2023) Lt. Jennifer Louie, deputy department head of Naval...... read more read more



    Story by Emily Swedlund 

    Naval Medical Research Command

    GROTON, Conn.- Lt. Jennifer Fung-Ming Louie, deputy department head of Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory’s (NSMRL)’s Warfighter Performance Department, is on the constant pursuit of growth. The Navy provided her with the perfect opportunity to challenge herself.

    Louie originally hails from Middletown, New Jersey, where her parents moved from New York City shortly after she was born. A second-generation Chinese American, with ancestral roots in Toisan, China, she grew up as one of only four Asian-American students from elementary through high school, which heavily influenced her identity.

    As she continued her education (achieving a bachelor’s from College of New Jersey, a Master of Science from Villanova, and eventually a PhD from the University of Central Florida), she encountered more diverse ethnic and cultural communities, which broadened her ideas on what it meant to be Asian and American.

    “In college, I became a lot more comfortable with who I am, and my identity as a Chinese-American and Asian-American woman. My early struggles with trying to prove my self-worth diminished, and I learned not to rely as much on external validation.”

    It was during this period of growth that Louie started work on breaking the stereotype of Asian-American women, who are often expected to be shy or submissive. She learned to hang glide, she ran marathons, and even learned how to breathe fire.

    Searching for opportunities to challenge perceptions is part of what inspired Louie to join the Navy. She yearned for a career that would challenge her physically and mentally, and the Navy was that perfect fit.

    “As an Asian-American woman in Navy leadership, I am relatively unique, and I love that. But usually, someone isn’t going to want to be the only diverse member of a team. If there is a population of varied ethnicities and races, people will find comfort knowing they’re not going to be alone, which will in turn create a more inviting culture.”

    Louie emphasizes that it’s important to honor diversity and inclusion in the Navy. To those who may say that emphasizing diversity means emphasizing “otherness,” Louie points out that until we’re all on equal footing, it’s important to celebrate our differences, and that we’ve still got a lot of growing to do.

    “I am still sometimes viewed as a representative for all East Asian-American women, and that can be exhausting. It’s important to be aware of others’ cultural identities, but realize that at the end of the day, your beliefs are still assumptions, and to really understand a person, no matter their race or ethnicity, you must get to know them on an individual level.”

    Louie is a second-generation Chinese American, who is proud of her heritage and her story, but wants to emphasize there is no “one” Asian American Pacific Islander(s) (AAPI) story.

    “AAPI is an evolving term, and as it evolves, it captures our society’s understanding of what it means to be AAPI.”

    The DOD pays tribute to the generations of AAPI who have enriched our Nation’s history through their countless contributions, vibrant cultures, and rich heritage. AAPI encompass a diverse group of cultures, ethnicities, and languages. They include those Americans who trace their ancestry to the Asian continent and the many Pacific Island regions.

    NSMRL, part of the Naval Medical Research & Development enterprise and based out of Groton, Connecticut sustains the readiness and superiority of undersea warfighters through innovative health and performance research.



    Date Taken: 05.24.2023
    Date Posted: 05.24.2023 16:27
    Story ID: 445475
    Location: GROTON, CT, US
    Hometown: MIDDLETOWN, NJ, US

    Web Views: 338
    Downloads: 0