Doua Yang

Seeing students’ potential

Her passion propels them forward

Doua Yang, ’13, is loud, proud, and unapologetic—and wants you to be, too. The first female of her 15 siblings to finish college, she had to clear her own path, overcoming daunting cultural, personal, and economic challenges to finish a degree in family social science.

The lessons she learned fuel the energy and commitment she brings to helping students succeed in Metropolitan State University’s TRIO Upward Bound program.

“She plays an important role in making sure our students are ready and prepared for college,” says Pa Yong Xiong, director of the program. “She is passionate about equity work, college access, and success, and I am thrilled she is on my team.”

The U of M TRIO Student Support Services played a big part in Yang’s success. In her first semester at the U, she was called to the office because she was struggling with the transition from high school to college. The staff listened, understood,
and offered valuable support.

“I walked into the TRIO office angry, and left validated. They saw the potential in me and listened,” says Yang. “TRIO helped me build community, confidence, and, most importantly, the power to use my voice to advocate for myself.”

In her current role as a TRIO professional, she advises high school students to ensure academic success and retention, teaches classes that help them find their own voice and build leaders, and coordinates programs to engage parents and families.

Her skills in understanding the complexities of family dynamics and in actively listening and empathizing with others lived experiences were honed in family social science.

“I have 15 siblings! Growing up, we all squeezed into a four-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment,” says Yang. “The craziest thing is that we shared everything without question and never fought. I was always fascinated by how all of my siblings had different personalities and different ways of approaching and doing things. How did we all come from the same household but act so differently?”

The theories and research she learned in family social science formed the foundation that today helps her connect with students, parents, and families, problem-solve with them, and act as a mediator.

“FSoS courses made me more self-aware and intentional,” Yang adds. “I am able to understand, analyze, and articulate my own growth as an individual, partner, daughter, sister, and aunt.”

Yang also developed her advocacy skills as a member and later adviser for the U of M’s Hmong Student Association, where she created programs to build awareness for social justice issues and support students academically, socially, and culturally.

She carries those skills forward, helping Metro State colleagues understand the cultural nuances needed in workshops and presentations to better serve students and families in her community.

Moving forward, Yang aspires to master’s and doctoral degrees in higher education and perhaps even running for office. But first, she says, she plans to marry her college sweetheart, start a family, and be a great mom.

Learn more about family social science and TRIO programs.

Story by Julie Michener | Photo by Nate Whittaker | Fall 2019