Celebrating the WoMentors in Our Lives.

With Women's history month coming to a close, the HIP Organizers wanted to take some time to thank the womentors that helped each us get to where we are today. 

Cha & Youa

Cha & Youa

Youa Yang

(BY: Cha Vang)

Youa Yang is my mom.

I picked my mom as my womentor because she's beautiful, courageous, thoughtful and damn sassy. She raised her kids as a single mother most of my life and she has always put others first. She is my support and strength in everything I do. I am the woman I am today because of this wonderful woman. If I could be half as great of a woman as her, I would be happy.     

The most important lesson I've learned from my mom is that goodness always win in the end.  It doesn't matter how others treat you, you should always treat others with goodness. 

As a woman, it's important to have a womentor who can be that proud woman role model. Someone who can share and empower young girls and women with lived gender experiences. 

Marilyn & Nancy

Marilyn & Nancy

Marilyn Wong

(BY: Nancy Xiong)

Marilyn Wong is the founder and coordinator for the Asian American Pacific Islander Health Research Group (AAPIHRG) that I was a part of at UC Berkeley. 

I choose Marilyn because she understands the importance of mentoring first generation college students. Marilyn is a very resourceful person and always goes above and beyond to help you succeed. She's also the type of person who will open up her home and prepare a warm meal on your worst days. Meeting Marilyn was the tipping point for me to pursue a career in Public Health. It was my first year at Cal and I felt like the classes I took didn't resonate or connect with what I was truly passionate about. She encouraged me to do research in my own community and helped me realize the importance of gathering data especially for a community that didn't have much data to begin with. She really spearheaded this research group and put AAPI health on the map at Cal.

She taught me that social justice intersects with EVERYTHING and that your age doesn't affect your ability to create change. 

As a Hmong American woman, I didn't have professional mentors to look up to. Having someone show interest in your development and career goals was something new to me. I didn't know it was possible to have someone (outside of your family) care enough to want you to succeed. Having a womentor like Marilyn really helped me with my transition into college and helped shaped the impact I wanted to make in my community. For me, it's really about having those opportunities available and they rarely exist for students of color. Marilyn provided me with those opportunities and provided a space where I could flourish and succeed. 

Laura & Lyia

Laura & Lyia

Laura Vu

(BY: Lyia Jalao)

Laura is my partner in crime.

We worked on similar social justice projects in college. She brought me into the Sacramento social justice fold (and HIP). Laura taught me the value of patience and kindness.

Understanding my own feminine perspective and how that informs my political POV.


Doua & Jonathan

Doua & Jonathan

Doua Thor

(BY: Jonathan Tran)

Doua Thor, a Hmong daughter of refugee parents who escaped the Secret Wars in Laos, is the Executive Director for President Barack Obama's White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Typing that sentence is pretty surreal but incredibly powerful because Doua has always been a trailblazer--paving the way for others. Doua was my first Executive Director at the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) and developed into a very dear friend. I chose Doua as my womentor because she's mentored so many young people and because she carries herself with such compassion and courage.

Back in 2009, Doua took me into the SEARAC family during a dark period of my professional career. She rebuilt my confidence and handed me the reins to the organization's California operations. Doua understood how to develop and grow young people on her team--giving us the room to make our own mistakes and offering us guidance or comfort to get us through uphill battles. She always conducted herself with such warmth and compassion--especially to those who are often overlooked. 

I can be hotheaded sometimes, so I learned so much from Doua's steady demeanor. She gets pissed off just like the rest of us, but she channels her anger with such power and grace--it's inspiring. It's okay to be angry but you better have a damn plan for how you unleash that energy. 

Having strong Southeast Asian American women in our lives is at the core of developing strong Southeast Asian American men. I'm so blessed to have Doua as my womentor.