By Aubrey Drohner, Meghan Finger, & Mackenzie Morey
For many students, education means gaining the knowledge to flourish academically. There are several different ways in which education is obtained. For some students, their culture or ethnic background may develop their education differently than others. Two individuals share how they perceive cultural impact on education.
Mai Lee, Diversity Director at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, has been working for the Multi Ethnic Student Affairs (MESA) office since June of 2007. She works with the Southeast Asian Student Union on a program about Hmong creative careers. All of these programs and events that would normally be in person are now virtual for these students. Mai says there is “a similar output to when the events were face-to-face because of the idea that students are used to being virtual from the start.” When attending these events, some students are more open and willing to speak on their authenticity. That is where Authentic Me comes into play. Authentic Me allows students to volunteer to share their own experiences about their culture. This idea will enable people to view different perspectives and lifestyles people live. Authentic Me students are allowed to be a panelist on student panels, assist a recruitment program, and be a student voice for their authenticity.
Culture can impact not only education but can spark a business scheme. Ka Vang, a student at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, has always loved her Hmong culture. After taking several business administration and entrepreneur courses, she was inspired to enter the Fall 2020 UWGB Student Business Idea Virtual Pitch Contest. Ka’s business idea came into play shortly after. She was influenced by various drawings and representations of Hmong fashion she saw on social media. A modern Hmong-inspired fashion line called Ntxhais Hmoob. “Hmong clothing is very beautiful and comes with a lot of history,” Vang said. “Every pattern, every
design, and every color is incorporated into the clothing based on where you’re from.” Going forward, Ka would love to expand Ntxhais Hmoob fully. “It would be the perfect opportunity to increase awareness of the Hmong culture,” explained Vang.
As far as a cultural influence on her education, Ka believes her heritage has impacted her education. She is a first-generation college student born in a refugee camp in Thailand. “My generation still grew up in a traditional household but saw all of the opportunities in the first-world,” Vang clarified. Her time at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay has been great. Ka spoke about how outstanding her professors and advisors are. “Everyone is here to support me in reaching my goals.” In a number of her courses, Vang’s professors have always answered any questions she has.
No matter your background, all students deserve an environment to flourish within their education. UWGB strives to impact students of all cultural backgrounds positively.