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UW-RF Grad Receives Woman of Color Award

By Molly Exner
UW-RF News Bureau

MAY 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 with others.

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 into place.

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Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:23 Central Daylight Time

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