I wanted to express my Filipino-ness.: Becoming Minnesotan

Dr. Maryam Beltran Shapland, Emergency Physician at Woodwinds Hospital, Woodbury
  • Name - Maryam Beltran Shapland
  • Age at interview - 34
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 01.25.2011
  • Maryam Beltran Shapland and her family at her medical school graduation, 2004.

    We Are Here

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    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Cultural Preservation: How does a person weave his or her traditional culture into a new American identity?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Many immigrants struggle with their “dual identity”. They still feel like Filipinos and work to keep up their culture, religious traditions, and values. However, they also must learn how to live in American society. It can be difficult for young Filipino-Americans to grow up in a place that their parents don’t fully understand. This younger generation can feel more “American” than “Filipino”. They grow up surrounded by friends and classmates who are not Filipino, and become influenced by these different cultures. Some see it as a positive that they are able to have two cultures! They can continue the cultural practices of their parents, but also operate like any other American in this society.

    To learn more about Filipino history and culture, visit our Filipino Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Maryam Shapland 8
    3:31 Minutes | 3.39Mb


    Narrator: Maryam Shapland (MS)

    Interviewer: Lita Malicsi (LM)

    LM: Now, after high school, you went to Saint Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. What degree did you pursue and what prompted you to major in that area of studies?

    MS: So, this is interesting because after all the math and science in high school, I decided to pursue the degree of American Racial and Multicultural Studies, which was kind of a lesser known degree at Saint Olaf College.

    This was a struggle with my parents, as well, because I was going for a degree in biology and I was pre-med, and I decided around, I think it was my sophomore year in college that I’d taken all the biology classes I wanted. I’d taken human biology, cell biology, microbiology, and I was not interested in plants. [Chuckles] The only classes left for me to take to complete my degree was plant biology, a few of those classes. I was just absolutely not interested in it. And I said, “I don’t want to take this. I don’t want to pursue biology.” My minor at the time was American Racial and Multicultural Studies which was fascinating to me, because it was a study of how the different cultures and races in the U.S.…the different experiences of the different ethnic groups: African Americans, and Hispanic Americans, gay Americans. It was just fascinating. So I decided to pursue that degree, much to the chagrin of my parents. I remember having a conversation with them and they said, “Well, if you have a biology degree, this is what you could do. If you have an American Racial and Multicultural Studies degree, what can you do?” I had to convince that this was a valid degree and that it would help me in the future. [Chuckles]

    LM: In May 1998, you graduated magna cum laude from Saint Olaf College. Now I would like you to describe that moment in your life and your family’s.

    MS: Well, it was a very good day. I remember feeling very proud and feeling like I wanted to express my Filipino-ness during my graduation. So I decided instead of my cap, my graduation cap, I wore some Filipino Muslim headgear and I also wore kind of a Muslim — I forget what that cloth is called — but I wore a sash…

    LM: Batik?

    MS: Batik sash across my chest to express my being Filipino during graduation.

    LM: You still majored in multicultural studies?

    MS: I did.

    LM: Now, at this time did your parents’ feelings change?

    MS: I think they slowly warmed up to the idea. I think that they were okay with it in the end. [Chuckles]

    LM: Especially after having graduated magna cum laude!

    MS: Yes.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun: Cloth featuring designs made with a traditional wax-resist dyeing technique.


    Noun: Distress or embarrassment at having failed or been humiliated.


    Adjective: Of or relating to a group of people having common racial, national, religious or cultural origins.

    magna cum laude

    Adverb: "With great praise"; an honor added to a diploma or degree for work considered to be of much higher quality than average.


    Adjective: Relating or pertaining to several different cultures.


    Verb:  To aim for or go after; to particpate in.  (pursues, pursuing, pursued)


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 2149