Meet the Hmong Woman Now: Miss Hmong Central Valley, Mary Vang

“Peb ib lo lus zoo, nws yuav cawm tau ib tug neeg txoj sia. Peb ib lo lus phem, nws yuav txho tau ib tug neeg txoj sia.”

My name is Mary Vang and I am a mental health clinician. I am also your Miss Hmong Central Valley, 2017 residing in Fresno, California. My educational background is Counseling with an emphasis in Marriage, Family and Child. My long-term goal is to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and continue my education towards a Doctorate degree in Psychology.

Photo Credit: Stephen E. Chang

I was inspired/motivated to enter the pageant due to my passion to help our Hmong community regarding Mental Health, particularly Depression. At a very young age, I knew I wanted to help individuals/families in crisis. During the pageant competition, I spoke of how our Hmong culture address individuals with depression. In the Hmong culture, there is hesitation to seek help outside the family due to shame. When individuals who are depressed have no safe outlets, over time it could lead to detrimental consequences: drugs and alcohol abuse, suicide, homicide, marital conflict, etc. These uprising concerns in our community inspired me to talk about Depression during the pageant.

A significant event in my career was my first counseling course in graduate school. As mandatory classroom participation, students had to take turns being a client, then a counselor. The whole purpose as the client was to confront our personal struggles as it will enable us to become effective counselors. The experience was emotionally draining but quite an epiphany. I discovered the value of empathy: the ability to understand or feel what others are feeling. It’s easy to judge because it’s difficult to understand. The problem with judging is that we create a world that is so limited.

People who are depressed feel limited, like there is no hope in life getting better. This is why depression is so dangerous. When people feel hopeless, they tend to self soothe with the use of drugs, self-harm activities, committing suicide and/or even committing homicide. During my platform round for the pageant I stated, “Peb ib lo lus zoo, nws yuav cawm tau ib tug neeg txoj sia. Peb ib lo lus phem, nws yuav txho tau ib tug neeg txoj sia.” Meaning that we should empathize, as our words/action can play such a pivotal role in a person’s life.

One of the most difficult part of my career is finding balance. As a counselor and now, Miss Hmong Central Valley, I want to give so much of me but I realized I tend to neglect myself and the people I love. In counseling we call this “self-care”, in order to care for others one must care for oneself first.

Anyone is welcome to contact me personally through my email or my public Facebook page @MissMaryVaj for any assistance. Other than myself, utilize social media to outreach and network with people who shares the same passion as you. Expand your horizon by constantly learning and challenging yourself through reading, attending classes/trainings and consulting with peers and experts. Most importantly, have compassion and courage. Stay humble, work hard and give wholeheartedly.

“Most importantly, have compassion and courage. Stay humble, work hard and give wholeheartedly.”

Being a Hmong woman means strength. Hmong women are strong, compassionate and resilient. Not only are our physical body made to be resilient through child-bearing, our mind are resilient as well. We are only as strong as we choose to be.

17097304_1845309129090064_8047796588772509752_o (1)
Photo Credit: Cynthia Xiong, Hairstylist: Jenny Lee

Meet the Hmong Woman Now: Mai See Xiong

“…even though I am a woman, I can be as good as a man…”

– Mai See Xiong

Meet Mai See Xiong, an alumna from BYU Idaho.  She received her BS in Nursing and is currently serving her community as a registered nurse (RN) in the oncology unit in the Huntsman Cancer Institute located in the University of Utah.

I had the pleasure to introduce Mai See in an interview to our audience.  During the interview we were able to discover the challenges and triumphs she encountered during the course of her career.   Mai See talked about the remedies she practiced to help her overcome some of the adversities and gave advice to other students who are in the middle of pursuing their career. I welcome you to watch the interview below.

“…never, never never ever go into anything with the attitude of ‘I know I’m going to fail already, because you self-fulfill that prophecy.”