Esther Vang is no stranger to being a trailblazer. She immigrated to the United States from Thailand, starting her U.S. life in California before relocating to Wisconsin. She learned English as her second language. Esther is the oldest of six children, and she is responsible for caring for and supporting those siblings as needed by her parents. Esther will also be the first member of her family to complete a high school education and first to attend college.
“In Hmong culture in general as the oldest kid in the family, it’s a little bit of pressure. I have to set an example for my siblings to follow, make sure we’ll be in a better position than my parents were. And I want to be able to provide for them. I don’t want them working into their 80s.”
Her plan is to attend Western Technical College, earn her associates degree in nursing, attain her first job, and then return to school to achieve her bachelors degree in nursing. Her interest in nursing stems from her own interactions with healthcare professionals.
“When I was around 7, I was hospitalized for about a month because of serious medical reasons. Spending that much time in a hospital made me interested in the medical field. It made me think about how to care for people. I didn’t realize how much nurses do for people. Doctors come in and do their jobs and obviously it’s important. But the nurses are there the whole time through the process. Caring for people. Taking care of all the little details of care.”
To jump start her journey, Esther needed support and advice. Her school counselor and teachers encouraged her to seek help from the Future Center. As a senior, Esther became regular in the Future Center. With the support of Matt Gordy and the Future Center, Esther completed her FAFSA, submitted college applications, applied for scholarships and grants, took campus visits, explored her college and career options and trajectories, and connected her to resources at prospective campuses. Esther values what she received from the Future Center.
“I actually don’t know how students at other schools get their things done without a Future Center. What I didn’t expect from Mr. Gordy was that he did not sugar coat things, which I appreciate. Some people say ‘you got this’ and ‘do whatever you want to do’ and ‘you’ll get it done.’ But he would demonstrate to you what’s a good path and what might not be a good path so you can make informed decisions.”
Esther’s determination to succeed, ability to adapt, and willingness to advocate for herself will undoubtedly help her find success beyond graduation and continue to blaze a trail for her siblings to follow.