I am a Hmong woman born to parents from Laos in a refugee camp in Thailand. Shortly after that, we were able to come to America, where we were given citizenship in 1994, making our home in California ever since. Growing up in the USA, my origins have increasingly informed my identity and sense of community and professional purpose – focusing on the Hmong communities of the USA. I hope to earn my master's degree in public health in preparation for a lifetime of service to my people, helping them understand and take advantage of healthcare resources here in the USA, our new homeland. I see San Francisco as the principal gateway to what is best in America, the most enlightened city with the most significant interest in humanitarian issues, and XXXX University as a flagship of progressive advancement in Public Health and the healthcare issues facing minority groups.
In my parents’ country of origin, Laos, according to them, healthcare was non-existent for the ordinary Laotian. My parents had no formal education on how to care for their health. Instead, they sought consolation in their religious beliefs, which helped them feel more secure. Even today, the Hmong community in California remains isolated from the larger society and publicly available healthcare resources. My people, even in America, still suffer from a sub-standard knowledge of the causes, complications, and treatment of some of the most common health issues, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. I see the Hmong people in America as one of the most marginalized ethnic groups that make up our larger society. Therefore, as a member of this community, I hope to be selected for the MPH Program at XXXX University based on my experiences with my people and their challenges in public or community health. There is a great need for healthcare promotion, support, and education in the Hmong community – especially in the face of widespread, generalized resistance to Western medicine. I feel called to a lifetime of professional service as an advocate for the public health concerns of marginal ethnic groups in America and the Hmong community. Thus, I hope to receive one of the best public health educations globally, the MPH Program at XXXX University.
I lost my mother several years ago; she was only 59 years old and had been ill for many years. My mother will always be my main inspiration in death and life. She was diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol long ago, within a few years of our arrival in the USA, when I was just a child. However, my mother failed to adopt preventative measures and eventually suffered a stroke that would leave the right side of her body paralyzed; she just recently passed away from lymphoma. For the last two years of her life, she refused diagnostic tests because she feared medical intervention might make things worse: until her spleen became so big that it was causing complications. When she finally removed it, she would succumb one month after the surgery to lymphoma. She never had the chance to try chemotherapy or other treatment options. I cried. I felt overwhelmed and defeated. She was only 59 years old. Her death helped me to reaffirm my commitment to becoming an advocate for my underserved community. If she had trusted Western medicine more, she would have allowed herself to get treated earlier. If she had been more educated about the nature of the health challenges, she would have accepted that she needed medical and surgical intervention much sooner – or better still, to have adopted preventive measures while still young that would have added decades to her life.
Still only twenty-four, I have worked hard to prepare myself for a career in Public Health, earning my bachelor's degree in health education with a minor in Child Development from CSU Chico. I have experience as a caseworker for the Asian community since I completed a 5-month internship as a Family Specialist (January-May 2017) with the Hmong Cultural Center of Butte County in Oroville, CA. The year before, 2016, I served as a Health Educator at XXXX Day Elementary School and a Healthy Community Volunteer with the Kids Farmers’ Market in Los Molinos, distributing fresh fruits and vegetables to students and helping them appreciate the importance of healthy eating.
Especially because of my work with the Hmong Cultural Center, I am becoming increasingly aware of the importance of conveying public health information in a culturally sensitive manner, targeting specific communities. I see the University of XXXX as the optimal platform to realize my central, long-term goals in Public Health Education and Advocacy, especially for my people, the Hmong communities of America.
Thank you for considering my application to Public Health at the University of XXXX.