UWM’s Chia Youyee Vang receives UW System Award

Chia Youyee Vang
Chia Youyee Vang

Chia Youyee Vang, associate professor of history, will be honored at the 19th annual University of Wisconsin System Women of Color in Education Awards ceremony Oct. 18 at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Vang, who is the director of the Hmong Diaspora Studies Certificate Program, is an interdisciplinary historian whose research has focused on the lives of Southeast Asian refugees following the Vietnam War.

Most recently, she published research on the issues facing Burmese and Bhutanese refugees in the U.S. With colleagues Faith Nibbs and Ma Vang, she is completing work on an edited book, Claiming Place: Hmong Women, Gender and Knowledge Production, a collection of essays about Hmong women’s roles in their communities that is forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press.

She teaches courses on 20th-century U.S.-Asia relations, Hmong/Asian American history, and the Vietnam War. Vang has also led study abroad courses to Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam to give American students opportunities to interact with and learn from the people of these countries.

Vang also served as co-chair of the Asian Faculty and Staff Association, and helped form and lead a UWM group to participate in this summer’s Dragon Boat Races, part of a city-wide celebration of Asian cultures.

An advocate for women of color and women’s studies scholarship. Vang collaborated with community leaders in establishing the Hmong Diaspora certificate program in 2009, and worked with the UWM Union’s Sociocultural Programming office and the Women’s Resource Center to bring Asian American women performers and speakers to campus.

She “has been instrumental in bringing about positive changes at UWM in the development and infusion of content on women and diversity,” said Gwat-Yong Lie, associate dean of the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, in her nomination letter.

“Dr. Vang has been a tireless advocate for women of color and women’s studies scholarship and activism,” Lie added. “She continues to actively involve herself in events and activities that serve to improve the status and climate for women, as well as help rally diverse forces together to advance the agenda of women, particularly that of women of color.”

Vang is a board member of the Wisconsin Humanities Council and former president of the Hmong American Peace Academy board of directors. She served as a humanities expert for the “Here, There, and Elsewhere: Refugee Families in Milwaukee” photo exhibit in 2010. She was also involved in The Hmong Women’s Giving Circle, a volunteer group that raises funds for Hmong community events and projects.

The UW System Women’s Studies Consortium and the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion organize the Outstanding Women of Color in Education Awards to publicly recognize the contributions that women of color have made to the UW System, and in particular, to diversity and women’s studies.

The awards ceremony will be part of the joint 38th Annual Wisconsin Women’s Studies and 9th Annual LGBTQ Conference Oct. 17-19 at UW-River Falls.

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