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UW-RF Grad Receives Woman of Color Award
By Molly Exner
UW-RF News Bureau
6, 2005--UW-River Falls alumna Myser Yang was presented with the UW System
Woman of Color award for her commitment to through campus and community
activities for Hmong women.
The UW System Women's Studies Consortium, the Office of Diversity and
Development, and the Office of Women’s Issues presented this award
to 17 women from around the state in April at the Pyle Center in Madison,
Wis. Each UW System campus selects one woman to receive recognition for
their extensive contributions to their campuses and/or communities.
The awards ceremony was a highlight of the 29th Annual Women's Studies
Conference. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the UW System's Women
of Color Awards.
Yang, from Eau Claire, Wis., is one of seven siblings and the first of
her family to attend college. She has made a difference in others' lives
by mentoring and encouraging Hmong women and leading diversity education
programs for public school students as well as students on the UW-RF campus.
Yang says she was "surprised" to receive such a high honor.
"There's so many women at UW-RF who are qualified for this award.
I'm really humbled."
Born in the United States, Yang embraces both her Hmong and American identities
to strengthen her relationships with Hmong women, elementary and secondary
school students, and the community at large.
Perhaps her greatest contributions have been in her own community where
she continues to encourage Hmong women to major in elementary education
so they can better serve their community.
As a UW-RF December 2004 graduate with a degree in elementary education,
Yang currently serves as the first Hmong female teaching bilingual education
assistance for junior-high Hmong youth at South Middle School and North
Star School in Eau Claire.
Multicultural Student Services Coordinator Linda Alvarez says she was
honored to nominate Yang for this prestigious recognition. "I've
watched her determination in focusing on her goals, maturing her bicultural
and professional identity and offering encouragement to her peers."
Yang was honored to be nominated by Alvarez, whom she turned to for academic
and personal support while attending UW-RF. "Linda has been my mentor,"
Yang says. "Linda's always been there for me. She was my number one
support for five years at UW-RF."
Alvarez says, "I have known Myser since she began her studies and
have great respect for her and the work she has done at UW-RF. I am privileged
to have seen her commitment to people of color and her respect and sisterhood
with other young women seeking a deserved place in our educational institutions."
Yang has worked diligently to improve the status of Hmong women through
University recruitment efforts. Fluent in Hmong, she has translated college
recruitment materials, participated in panel discussions about the college
experience at high schools, and met with Hmong parents to encourage young
women to visit colleges.
According to Yang, her drive and motivation stems from always knowing
she wanted to help others. Yang constantly surrounds herself with women
of color who turn to her for help in bridging the cultural and informational
challenges of attending college. As an assistant in the UW-RF Admissions
Office, Yang coordinated college visits for Wisconsin and Minnesota high
school students to UW-RF.
Yang's remarkable linguistic and cultural skills have provided her with
the opportunity to collaborate with UW-RF faculty to translate a survey
from English to Hmong. She also has been instrumental in assisting Hmong
women to navigate the American landscape while sharing their Hmong culture
Serving as an officer for the Asian-American Student Association for two
years, she coordinated and publicized a number of programs open to the
public. She attended several events, such as "Building Unity"
and the "American Multicultural Student Leadership Conference"
and served as a camp counselor for economically disadvantaged students.
Also, Yang served as Hmong Team Leader for the Community Action Theatre
Troup (CATTS), a student organization that provides diversity education
for public school as well as the UW-RF campus.
Yang says she really enjoyed being a part of CATTs. "I had the opportunity
to share something personal about my culture and myself with this community."
Her capacity to help others has extended to Japanese women international
students, whom she also tutored and guided in their acculturation process.
Her commitment to people of color and her ability to reach out to Hmong
women has opened doors for other young women to seek careers in education.
Yang says being a tutor at River Falls was a big help because she learned
how to be assertive, which currently helps her convince her students that
homework is "cool" and worth the hard work.
According to Yang, we live in a "crazy and competitive world"
and kids should strive for education first and let the rest simply fall
Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:23 Central Daylight Time