Finding Purpose Through Community

Mina Vang-Xiong was married at 17 and graduated from Fond du Lac High School in 2005. She went on to pursue nursing at UW-Oshkosh, later becoming a certified ophthalmic assistant. After seven years and having three children, she felt a pull to spend more time with her family and in her community.

“I wanted to be able to spend more time with my children,” Vang-Xiong said. “In the medical field, I
knew I wouldn’t be able to live the life I wanted. Information Technology (IT) is something learnable and will allow me to be more flexible. I know that after I graduate, I’ll be able to work in any industry I want, and I am really excited about my future.”

Vang-Xiong enrolled in Moraine Park’s dual-degree IT program in spring 2020 and will graduate in 2022 with both IT Network Specialist and IT Technical Support Specialist associate degrees. After graduating, her future goals include getting a job at an IT company and working toward a bachelor’s degree.

By enrolling at Moraine Park, Vang-Xiong found not only more time to spend with her family, but also more time to engage with her communities. She is vice president of Moraine Park’s Fond du Lac Student Senate, president of the IT Club, a member of Phi Theta Kappa Academic Honor Society and had the opportunity to work with Moraine Park’s IT department as a technical support assistant.

“Being involved and volunteering is an emotional experience that allows me to be more aware of
the needs in my community,” Vang-Xiong said. “I believe when schools, parents and communities partner together, great things can happen in the lives of children and young adults.”

Outside of Moraine Park she volunteers at her children’s school events, engages with her local Hmong community and enjoys practicing her hobbies of fruit carving and baking. Recently, she was awarded a Bronze MPTC Student Impact Award for completing more than 25 hours of volunteer work.

“Stepping outside of my job and into volunteering has given me the chance to learn new professional skills while sharpening others including public speaking, managing teams, fundraising and coordinating events,” she said.

Vang-Xiong’s proudest moment was volunteering as a traditional Hmong dance instructor with the Fond du Lac Nkauj Hmoob Kaj Siab dance team to help younger generations learn more about
their culture, become more engaged in their community and build self-esteem.

“Career transitions are like onions,” Vang-Xiong said. “They are complex and there is usually more to them than what we see on the surface. This career switch has kept me on my toes, and this new chapter in life has created a network of new relationships, broader access to new information, career advice and community support.”

Read more stories like Mina’s in our Spring 2022 NEXT Magazine.

Written by Emilie Wilson