Graduate Update: Mai Xee Vang

Mai Xee graduated from Central High School in 2016 and is currently a sophomore at St. Olaf College. We hope you enjoy hearing about her experience!

This semester, Mai Xee is taking calculus, computer science, English, and a writing and philosophy course on friendship, love, and the good life (sounds like a fun class)! She really enjoys computer science and has chosen computer science as her intended major. A typical day for Mai Xee includes breakfast in the morning and then she attends class and lectures. After getting out of class, she heads straight to her work-study job in the IT department. After work, she usually grabs dinner or attends club meetings, depending on the day. When she gets back to her residence hall, she studies and hangs out with her roommate.

Aside from academics and work, Mai Xee is a very busy student leader. She is a board member of the Hmong Cultural Outreach (HCO) organization. Their mission is to educate the St. Olaf community about Hmong people and their culture. They accomplish this by holding events and hosting dialogues and activities on-campus. One of their biggest events is the Hmong New Year. This event is a collaboration between HCO and the Coalition of Hmong Students (CHS), a student-led organization from their neighboring school, Carleton College.

In addition, Mai Xee is on the executive team for the St. Olaf Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (STOMAPS). They focus on health care disparities among minority communities and participate in volunteering projects. STOMAPS is also a resource group for students who are interested in pre-med. Lastly, she is a member of the Stitches for Peace club, a volunteer-based organization that crochet and knit. They sell and donate their products directly to benefit local organizations.  

When I asked Mai Xee if she is enjoying college, she responded, “Besides the amazing food, college has been a great experience so far. I enjoy sitting in the Cage (the on-campus coffee shop) on a rainy day doing my work. When it is nice and sunny outside I love to explore the trails here on campus with friends”. Her favorite memory of college so far was her club retreat during spring break.  

I asked Mai Xee if college was what she expected and she shared, “When I was a high school senior I could not wait to graduate and go to college. I was a student who wanted to come to college for independence. I literally took advantage of my new independence and a few weeks later found out that I would not be able to survive if I did not ask for help, both academically and mentally. I am trying to say that although college is a great time for self-discovery, don’t let that or the word “adult” deter you from seeking help. If you need that extra push go for it.”  

Looking back on her UB memories, Mai Xee shared that she enjoyed going to Duluth and the second week of her first summer with UB. When I asked her how UB helped prepare her for college, she responded, “One of the lessons I got from my four years in Upward Bound was that there are people who care. Mari, Kim, Thay, and Kia are always listening and observing. They know their resources and they never failed in my time there to help me when I needed it the most. There are no doubts these are professional beings. Another person who helped me prepare for college was my mentor. The monthly letters of her adventurous experiences in college motivated me to do my very best in high school. Her advice was always so genuine and she was caring as well. She definitely boosted my confidence to attend a college outside of the Twin Cities.”

Before leaving, Mai Xee would like to share the following advice for current UB students: “Be yourself, offer good vibes, and study hard.”

 We would like to thank Mai Xee for taking time to share her college experience with us. We wish her all the best this school year!