Mai Yer Vang was born in Thailand and moved with her family to the U.S. in 1994. When she was in high school, Vang was introduced to Augsburg on a tour with the Upward Bound program. “We had a really good tour guide who showed us everything on campus,” she said.
Vang liked Augsburg’s small campus atmosphere and was intrigued by a presentation given by Richard Webb, a counselor for Augsburg’s TRiO program, a U.S. Department of Education program that helps first-generation college students overcome class, social, and cultural barriers to completing their education.
“My family is on welfare,” Vang said, “but Richard talked about financial aid and told us that we could go to Augsburg if we wanted to. He helped us understand that a college education was possible.” In fact, Vang became the first in her family of eight children to attend college.
She came to Augsburg in the summer, before many of her classmates, for TRiO’s Summer Bridge program, a five-week residential program that introduces students to the college experience with classes, academic support seminars, workshops, and social activities.
As a TRiO scholar, Vang must not only maintain a 3.0 GPA each term, she also meets regularly with her TRiO counselor to discuss her academic progress and financial issues. TRiO students complete all of their financial aid application paperwork on their own, an often-daunting procedure many of her peers delegate to parents. Vang is grateful for this experience because she is now helping one of her older sisters complete college and financial aid applications.
For two years, Vang has worked as a caller for the Augsburg Fund in Augsburg’s Office of Institutional Advancement. Through her conversations with alumni, Vang has received career advice and has learned more about Augsburg traditions and history. “I learned that Homecoming used to be huge here,” she said, “and there were a lot more dances and royalty and parades during the year than we have now.”
To date, Vang and the student caller team have helped raise more than $114,000 for the Augsburg Fund. To learn more about the Augsburg Fund and other ways to support students like Mai Yer Vang, go to www.augsburg.edu/giving.