Meet the Hmong Woman Now: Chia Vang

“Jump the leap of faith! We will never know what is on the other side until we do it!”

– Chia Vang

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Meet Chia Vang, an alumna from CSU Fresno.  Several years ago, she received her BS in Criminology and MS in Rehabilitation Counseling.  Today she continues her Ph.D in Philosophy of Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.  To pursue her Ph.D, she has left her hometown to live in Texas where she works two jobs as a Teacher and Research Assistant.

I was honored to have had Chia as our next Hmong Women Now representative.  During our interview she shared brilliant ideas and suggestions regarding questions around graduate schools.  Additionally, she shared multiple strategies on being successful as a graduate student both in the Masters and Doctors’ programs. Five very important tips she shared were seeking academic counseling, volunteering, networking, prioritizing, and continuing to challenge ourselves as students.

The interview was far from inspirational.   It was absolutely constructive and informative. I will not be able to summarize the highlights or significant points of the interview because every second was extremely beneficial. I encourage you to watch the interview and really pay attention to every part of the discussion.  Whether you are planning to attend college, are attending college, or deciding to continue your education I assure you this video will both guide you and challenge you to “jump the leap of faith”.

 

Meet the Hmong Woman Now: Linda Thao, founder of HWN

“…being a Hmong woman also means I get to break all the barriers that were made to prevent me from standing out, from becoming phenomenal, from empowering other women, and from becoming who I want to be instead of who they’ve decided I should be.”

I have been blessed with a family of ten, my husband, and two little boys.  I have especially been fortunate to grow in a land where opportunities are bountiful. With the privileges I have been given I earned my BA in Liberal Studies, my Teaching Credentials, and my MA in Education minoring in Curriculum and Instruction at CSU Fresno.  I currently work as a middle school science teacher with a variety of young & amazing teenagers.  I absolutely love working with the youth of our community which makes setting my long-term goal a difficult task.  I wish to pursue my Doctorate in Education, however, I also wish to provide a safe haven for troubled youth in our community. My hope as an educator is to provide a temporary home for students while providing education.  I believe knowledge is the single most powerful tool we are gifted with and can use to better our circumstances.  Therefore we must continue to feed our knowledge to discover and utilize our full potential.

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The individual that I am today attributes to my sex and identity: a Hmong Woman. Being a woman is not easy and being particularly Hmong does not make it easier.  As Hmong people we know the patriarchal structure of our community: men are superior to women.  Yet, I have not allowed this traditional belief to stop me from becoming the person I am today. Being a Hmong Woman is a gift. Women are powerful and have traits that are extremely desirable.  When a woman have learned to value who she is, she can overcome any adversity.

It took me more than 20 years to acknowledge my value as a Hmong Woman, but when I discovered that value I set foot on a path allowing me to guide others to learn of their value. My determination to help youth to recognize their competency inspired me to become an educator.  Education is not and should not only be acquired through school.  Education can be obtained through multiple outlets.  I encourage everyone to continue to seize knowledge through reading, searching, visiting valuable resources, taking classes, and asking questions. Knowledge allows a person to become mobile.

As an educator, I believe we cannot ever learn enough to stop learning.  Learning is a life-long process and if we are disciples of learning we must receive and serve.  As an educator, I continue to learn everyday from my own students and from other individuals.  During my career as an educator there has been and continue to exist a multitude of learning opportunities.  I get to learn of stories many people do not know of.  I get to delve deep into the stories of children who come to my class everyday even when there home does not exist.  I get to see children blossom and learn to utilize their potential to the fullest.  I get to know stories extremely heartbreaking, capable of dismantling an adult. These stories are most significant in my career and are reasons why I continue to be an educator.  It is not about what they will learn with me, but what I can do with the time I’m given in order for them to discover their potential and value knowledge.  It is when they have developed a love for obtaining knowledge that they will start to learn in school and use that knowledge to change their perspective and circumstances.

Becoming the educator I am today was never easy.  The most challenging part during the earlier fragments of my career was finding the right resources.  I did not have the support to guide me in the right direction.  I walked with blind faith, believing the courses I took and the expectations from my university would lead me to become the individual I am today.  I am not sure if I would be where I am if it weren’t for the amazing individuals who coincidentally walked into my life. Each person would later provide information and resources guiding me towards the right direction.  Their guidance helped me to step out of my comfort zone and took chances that would later challenge but helped me to grow exponentially.  It was extremely challenging during my undergrad because I was just not confident enough and was just not knowledgeable enough to navigate alone.  Therefore, I encourage everyone to seek knowledge with confidence.  Do not be afraid others will question your intelligence, your capabilities, and potential because no matter what you do, people will question you.  I was fortunate to have met individuals who were generous enough to share valuable resources even when I was afraid to ask.  Not everyone will be as willing to share and help and not everyone will be as fortunate as myself to find such generous people.  Therefore, go forward confidently and ask questions when you are lost.  If I would have known then, I would have went forward and ask all the questions I held back.

“Never find the easier way out because as a result you will reach the end but will be absolutely clueless. Instead, tackle the most challenging course head-on and come out more informative  and prepared than ever.”

There are many resources available to all of us.  We are just not cognizant of it.  One of the greatest resource I had during both my undergrad and graduate degrees was the academic counselor.  Being an introvert I avoided having to ever ask people for help and always trusted in myself, even when I didn’t have the answer.  When I finally built enough courage to seek guidance from the academic counselor that was when I found clarification.  It was then when I stepped towards the right direction with confidence.  I extremely encourage everyone to ask and ask and keep on asking questions until you find the solution.  And when you cannot find the answer from people, look on the web – one of the most powerful supplementary resource.  I have turned to the internet on multiple occasions to find answers, even today as an educator I still find myself searching the web to find answers for my students.  Never stop asking questions because they build your knowledge and when your knowledge grows you become closer to becoming who you were made to be. Never find the easier way out because as a result you will reach the end but will be absolutely clueless. Instead, tackle the most challenging course head-on and come out more informative  and prepared than ever.

Before I end my blog entry, I would like to touch up on what it means to be a Hmong woman. For myself being a Hmong woman means it will not, maybe never, be easy.  It means people will stare, people will criticize, people will envy, & people will attempt to make me believe I was made to do one thing and that one thing is to put myself last.  However, being a Hmong woman also means I get to break all the barriers that were made to prevent me from standing out, from becoming phenomenal, from empowering other women, and from becoming who I want to be instead of who they’ve decided I should be.  Being a Hmong woman means we get to overcome never-ending adversities but each time that we do, we become a heroine, “a woman who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal.”

Linda Thao

Footnote: heroine. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved June 10, 2017 from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/heroine