By See Vang
As I sit here and ponder on what to write, I think about how far I’ve gotten and what I have surpassed in the last twenty years. This upcoming December it’ll be two years since my mom has passed. The struggles I’ve been through with her here in my life and without her. She was my source of motivation for everything I’ve accomplished. Even though she was so limited on her English, lacked an educational background, and emigrated from the country of Laos in the late 1970’s from the secret war, she always encouraged me to do my best in school.
I’ve often heard that if you work hard you’ll get somewhere in life, but I thought to myself that my mom had worked hard all her life working in the fields and she hasn’t gotten anywhere. I remember growing up and always attending summer school because I hated working to help her out in the fields on hot summer days while other kids got to play and swim. She attended all my parent teacher meetings and often asked the teachers, “My daughter do good or bad in your class, she listen to you or make trouble for you?” I was often embarrassed at how limited she was in English and how those questions seemed so obscured. After graduating from high school in 2010, I felt unstoppable. I was accepted into San Francisco State University and that’s where I wanted to go. I was so ready to move away and experience the college life in dorms, meeting complete strangers, and having to struggle in order to obtain success, but it all came to a halt once I heard during that summer that my mom was at stage-4 of liver cancer.
She had about an approximate time frame of six months to one year to live, and I had to debate whether I was going to attend a school two hours away and visit her when I could on weekends, considering I didn’t drive yet, or not go to school and stay in town. I made an instant decision to stay in town and made a last minute alteration and decided to pursue my education and still attend school at Sacramento City College. I wasn’t about to go to school in another town and just get to see her on weekends. I was going to enjoy every last moment, every last argument, and every last laugh with the time I had left with her. She only lived to see me go to college for my first semester before passing away during my finals week.
The following semester I found a club on campus called H.O.P.E Club, which stood for Hmong Opportunity Program for Education. Their mission statement was to promote higher education, outreach to high school students, and promote Hmong culture awareness, and so I joined. Through this day I’m still with this club on campus and I’m actually the club president this year. It’s also my last year at Sacramento City College before I transfer with my AA degree and continue on at a four-year university. H.O.P.E. has given hope and it has given me many opportunities to outreach to my Hmong community and promote higher education.
I have not regretted any moment while I was enrolled at a community college. Community college was just another stepping stone and has given me a second chance at higher education. My three years at community college completing my lower division courses would have been the same as if I took it at a 4 year university. Now that I am transferring , all I’m thinking about is my upper division courses. Being at community college and being a part of this club has given me a vision and different perspectives on my community and has prepared me with a taste of what college life will be like. I thoroughly enjoyed my time being apart of a club that outreaches to high school students to try give them the opportunity and a taste of what college life is through our own experiences and mistakes we’ve made as students. Each and every individual’s story is valid because it’s their own experiences that they’ve endured and no one can claim that it’s not.