Pa Zong Vang

Pa Zong Vang

Pa Zong Vang is a Christian Hmong-American. She is the fifth child in a family of nine. Vang is a Gates scholar pursuing a Bachelor of Arts at St. Olaf College, majoring in English. She plays an active role in her church.

“Being Hmong Americans there’s both positives and negatives, and when I think about it, I usually always think about being Hmong. And when I think about being Hmong there are a lot negativity associated with it I feel, because the patriarchal society that the Hmong people have. But then I always try think about myself more as Hmong American and when I think about that then to me it means that I am breaking– I am more than just Hmong and I am breaking cultural norms. And being Hmong American means that I have an opportunity that my parents don’t have. It’s an opportunity for success.”

“Off the top of my head I feel like there’s not a lot of benefits from being Hmong because I’m a minority and it feels like there is a lot of negatives that is attached to being Hmong. But then when I really think about it, being Hmong I have learned a lot, from being Hmong. It’s taught me a lot of diversity, being open-minded about everyone and everything and every situation. It’s taught me how to be self-adequate and self-directed. I know how to do things for myself and not wait on others. So being Hmong has given me positive qualities.”

“For myself, being Hmong American, a big obstacle is definitely resources. My parents have no idea how to obtain higher education, all they know is to tell me to strive for it and reach for it, that’s definitely an obstacle for me. Also finances is an obstacle, a lot of times finances is what stops people and me to even think about how? if I want to? do i have the finances for it? would it be worth it in the end if I went and got it. And also knowledge, I feel like I don’t know a lot of the things that there is to offer. There’s definitely a lot of things out there and programs that will help and scholarships that I can apply for but the hard part is knowing what is out there.”

“I feel like I am very lucky as a student and part of my family. When my mom came to the United States, my mom when to high school and got her GED. And so she always talks about how when she went to school she was nursing my older siblings and it was very tough on her to be going to school and be a mom. So she tries to be as lenient as possible on me and my siblings. Even though sometimes that I still have to do stuff (family-chores), I feel very lucky that my mom understands that I need to focus on education and her belief and her her hope is that I can achieve in school so it will pay off for her and for me in the future to be able to help her back. She’s not asking for my help now but she hopes that in the future I can help her.”

“Growing up I realize that having a tight-knit community is what helps me to be successful. Having people that I know, who I can be open with and they understand (me) that is really supportive for me academically. Also money or finances is a big stress so knowing that I have my finances covered helps me academically because then I don’t have to worry about having a part-time job and having to support myself along with going to school.”