Seeking the Role Models

By: PJay

The semester is finally ending and although it might seem late, I’m proud to say that I think I’ve finally figured out how the college life works for me! This year was one of the most terrifying and adventurous times of my life. I struggled so deep to where I didn’t think I was going to be able to bring myself up. I was losing motivation, but slowly, I managed to change my actions. I remembered I had one task here to complete: to succeed and bring a brighter future to my family and myself. Being the extrovert that I am, I opened my eyes and allowed others to inspire me in ways they might not even know. Such as just simply remembering my name. There are so many leaders at UMD I could mention, and here are just a few of the people who I would love to thank and talk about, and they might just be able to help you as much as they have helped me.

Back in the summer of 2013, I visited UMD as a high schooler with a program called Upward Bound. From that visit, the only face I could remember was Jordon Moses. He was honest to mention both good and bad qualities about college which pulled me to consider UMD. At the time, he was still an undergrad and a student ambassador. Thankfully, he is now a passionate mentor and Coordinator of African American Student Programs in the Multicultural Center. By sharing his background as a colored student who went to multiple schools and ended up at a privileged white high school, he learned that the question for him was not “are you going to college?” but “where are you going to college?” Eventually he ended up at UMD, and shared that through college, he become more patient, intelligent, and “witty”. He thrived to make the school better, and positively influenced people who wanted to transfer out of UMD, to stay. When I asked to interview him, for him to just know my name made me feel awesome because to me, he’s a superstar!

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In addition, David “Victory” Lee, is a senior at UMD who I’ve found to be wiser than his years. In high school, David was not very involved with extracurricular activities (truly hard to believe now because he’s one of the most outgoing Hmong upperclassmen). He made a decision to attend a university rather than a community college because it allowed him to expand out of his comfort level. He learned to become a leader and held many statuses in different clubs. For me to come into college as an afraid and a little freshmen, David’s sense of humor positively influenced me to join the club Asian/Pacific American Association (APAA) where he holds the position as president. With his impact, APAA was where I met and made most of my friends. There was never a time when he let me or others feel excluded. Secretly, I look up to him as an older brother. He constantly teaches me to go outside of my comfort level because he knows it’ll open many doors. To have a supporter like David has encouraged me to try new opportunities.

Another amazing person I’d like to recognize is my resident assistant (RA), Kau Guannu. In 2001, Kau came to America from Liberia at the age of five. Similar to Jordon, she was also expected to attend college. She is now a junior, and despite her hectic schedule, whenever I’m confused with college, she’ll try her best to reach my needs. Whether that’s on a weekend or at 10:00PM on a school night. Most of the events I’ve attended such as Stress Less Week and Grocery Bingo were through her. With her major in Psychology, she has learned how to pay close attention and related phenomenons studied in her courses to read people’s body language. It has motivated me to want to push through my generals before my major will start to make sense. In addition, I’ve realized that we may come from different parts of the world but we’re connected through the value of wanting to take care of our family in the future. Her motivation to succeed in college to help her mother has also helped me to rethink every time I feel like quitting to consider my family.

Lastly, I would like to introduce the beautiful Coordinator of Asian/Pacific American Student Programs, Kaohlee Vue. Being the oldest daughter and a first generation child, she attended the University of MN Twin Cities and majored in Child Psychology. In many Hmong families, most daughters are strictly ordered to not leave the household unless if they are married. Therefore, a lot of Hmong elders criticized Kaohlee’s parents for allowing her to study abroad in Laos, and to travel to California and New York to work for AmeriCorps. But, she believed she was doing the right thing and her parents valued her education. Rarely do we see in the Hmong community a young lady be able to further her education. She informed me to make a lot of connections outside of my classes because the experiences made from the college clubs shaped her to become the person she is today. Witnessing the possibilities that Kaohlee has achieved, inspired me to want to explore college and find myself.

It’s extremely honoring and fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful role models. If you seek out guidance, it will come because there are many wonderful people who can and will help you out. A divine factor about the people that I’ve mentioned above is that they’re all passionate to make a change. Like one of my family member mentioned to me, “when you hang out with winners, you’ll feel like a winner too,” and these are just the very few people who are winners in my life. So whether you are already a student here or want to attend UMD, I encourage you to seek out my role models. I guarantee, you’ll just feel better coming to school and being surrounded by people who love encouraging you.

Read PJay’s other posts

Photo source: Unsplash | Greg Rakozy

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