During the Vietnam War, the Hmong people of Laos helped the U.S. fight against communist forces. When the U.S. and its allies pulled out, the Hmong who weren’t immediately killed ended up in camps. Until he was about 14 years old, Sou Yang, his parents, and his 10 brothers and sisters lived in refugee camps. Life in a camp meant no education and limited food. After the second camp was shut down, he moved to the U.S. with his grandmother, brother and sister.
The transition from life in a fenced-in camp with nothing but dirt and rocks to the modern and very populated Twin Cities was difficult enough, especially factoring in the language barrier. Sou struggled with learning English, but his family pushed him to take advantage of all opportunities presented to him. That is why he joined Genesys Works while attending Saint Paul Harding High School.
"Genesys Works helped me start a career. I hope more people get the same life-changing chance."
With only three years in the U.S. Sou took a chance and it paid off for him in more ways than one. He gained an incredible amount of self-confidence that enabled him to successfully complete his internship at 3M and graduated from Hamline College in four years. He is a cybersecurity analyst at General Mills Corporation, and married another GW alum – Na Lee Thao. They have two sons. Sou and Na are great champions for the program: they have inspired nine family members to participate in Genesys Works.
To support students who are currently participating in Genesys Works, please click here to make an online donation.