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Hmong Community Health, MPH Application, Public Health, Laotian Parents, Refugee Camp in Thailand

Updated: 6 days ago

I am a Hmong woman who was born to parents from Laos in a refugee camp in Thailand. Shortly thereafter, thankfully, we were able to come to America where we were given citizenship in 1994 and we have made our home in California ever since. Growing up in the USA, my origins have increasingly informed my identity along with my 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 to better understand and take advantage of health care 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 greatest interest in humanitarian issues, and XXXX University as a flagship of progressive advancement in the area of Public Health and the health-care issues facing minority groups.

In my parents’ country of origin, Laos, according to them, healthcare was virtually non-extent for the ordinary Laotian. For 40 years of my parents’ lives, they did not have any formal education on how to take care of their health. Instead, they sought consolation in their religious beliefs which helped them to feel more secure. Even today the Hmong community that we are a part of in California remains isolated from the larger society and publicly available health care 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 to the MPH Program at XXXX University on the basis of my experiences with my people and the challenges that they face in the area of public or community health. Clearly, 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 serving as an advocate for the public health concerns of marginal ethnic groups in America, generally speaking, and the Hmong community in particular. Thus, I hope to receive one of the finest public health educations in the world, the MPH Program at XXXX University.

I lost my mother several years ago and she was only 59 years old and had been ill for many years. My mother will always be my foremost inspiration, in death as in 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. My mother failed to adopt preventative measures, however, 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 that medical intervention might make things worse: until her spleen became so big that it was causing complications. When she finally had it removed, 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. I lost my mother to lymphoma, a cancer that has the greatest survival rate. Why did she die? She was only 59 years old. I made a commitment to myself then to become 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 that she faced, 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 24, I have worked hard to prepare myself for a career in Public Health, earning my Bachelor’s Degree in the area of Health Education with a minor in Child Development from CSU Chico. I have experience as a case-worker for the Asian community since I completed a 5-month internship serving 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 XXXXDay Elementary School as well as a Healthy Community Volunteer with the Kids Farmers’ Market in Los Molinos, distributing fresh fruits and vegetables to students and helping them to better appreciate the importance of healthy eating.

Especially as a result 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 that information to specific communities. I see the University of San Francisco as the optimal platform upon which to realize my central, long term goals in Public Health Education and Advocacy, especially for my people, the Hmong communities of America.

I thank you for considering my application to Public Health at the University of XXXX.

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