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A Research Focus That’s Close to Home

As Casey Linsey ’10 formulated her research project on the “brain drain” in the Philippines, she realized that she was personally connected to it: Linsey’s mother immigrated to the United States from the Philippines several years after earning a nursing degree, and her father immigrated after receiving a degree in chemical engineering.

With an Honors Research grant from LMU, Linsey spent a week in the Philippines in May. She interviewed more than 100 recent university graduates about their future plans. She specifically asked if they plan to leave the Philippines to pursue careers elsewhere and why.

Some of Linsey’s findings surprised her. As expected, the graduates who planned to leave the country said they were looking for career growth and economic opportunities. But Linsey expected that more of her interviewees would say they intended to leave the Philippines than did so. Among those who planned to stay, financial considerations, family connections and cultural identity were the reasons. When those planning to stay were asked their opinion of those planning to emigrate to the United States, the word they used was “courageous.” 

Another surprising research find for Linsey had to do with citizenship. Few of the interviewees who said they were leaving the Philippines planned to become citizens of the country to which they intended to move (in general, the United States, Japan and Australia). For them, national pride trumped any benefits that may come with citizenship in their new country.

Linsey, a political science and communications double major, acknowledges that the research project was a great fit for her. She goes to the Philippines almost every year to see family, and her research trip gave her a chance to bring together her studies and family experiences. “I learned a lot about myself,” she says. “I was reminded why I chose my majors in the first place.”