“It was just my name!”

A CRT/CRF Analysis of International Female Graduate Students’ Perception and Experiences Regarding Their Ethnic Name


  • Peiwen Wang University of Nebraska-Lincoln https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0124-1696
  • Xiaoyan Gu University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Amanda Morales University of Nebraska-Lincoln




international students, female graduate students of Color, name and identity, racial microaggression, racial discrimination


Although international female students accounted for 44% of the enrolled international students in the United States (U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, 2020), their experiences regarding their ethnic name are relatively understudied in onomastic literature. This study considers the experiences of eight international female graduate students of Color who are studying at a Midwestern predominantly White university. Utilizing Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Critical Race Feminism (CRF) as the theoretical and analytical lenses, this qualitative phenomenological study collected data through semi-structured, in-depth interviews. We explore the meaning of ethnic names and their connection to participants’ multidimensional identities. Findings include experiences with microaggressions, discrimination, and racism among students in relation to their ethnic name, and point to underlying factors. Finally, implications are offered for students, faculty members, and administrators to build authentically inclusive and equitable learning communities more effectively.

Author Biographies

Peiwen Wang, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Peiwen Wang is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA. Her major research interest lies in issues related to equity and racism that international students are facing, critical discourse studies, and teacher education that advances equity. Email: pwang24@unl.edu

Xiaoyan Gu, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Xiaoyan Gu, is a PhD candidate in the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the U.S. Her research focuses on multilingual assessment for emergent bilinguals and teachers’ language assessment literacy development for emergent bilinguals. Email: xiaoyan@huskers.unl.edu  

Amanda Morales, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Amanda R. Morales is an associate professor at the Department of Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA. Her research addresses issues of equity & access for minoritised students across the PK-16 education continuum. Her current work focuses on teacher preparation for working with multicultural & multilingual students as well as the experiences of pre-service and in-service teachers of Color in predominantly white institutions. Email: amanda.morales@unl.edu


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How to Cite

Wang, P., Gu, X. ., & Morales, A. (2022). “It was just my name!”: A CRT/CRF Analysis of International Female Graduate Students’ Perception and Experiences Regarding Their Ethnic Name. Journal of International Students, 13(2), 172–188. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v13i2.4716



Research Articles (English)