Maidawn is a former Girls Getting Ahead in Leadership (GGAL) participant (2011-2014) and current WeLEAD participant (2014-present). In her free time, Maidawn likes to listen to music while learning new recipes to cook for her family. Maidawn is also a dedicated wife and mother! She recently completed her Masters of Social Work at St. Cloud University in the Spring of 2020 and hopes to find a job where she can support immigrant and refugee individuals like herself. Congratulations, Maidawn!
When Maidawn first joined the GGAL program in 2011, she had little to no English-speaking skills. GGAL mentors and interns helped translate for her during class activities. She credits GGAL for helping her build friendships, leadership skills, public speaking skills, and increasing her confidence to lead and advocate for herself. Moreover, she improved her English writing and reading skills, which made her more confident communicating with others.
“WISE opened doors to help me believe in myself. If other girls can do it from the program, I can too!” says Maidawn. “Before WISE, I wanted to go to college but didn’t know how to until I joined the WISE programs. The mentors helped me navigate the steps.” Maidawn states that since she was a high school senior, she always had the dream of obtaining her Masters degree. “It was a dream. I believed in it, I was committed and dedicated and made it through,” says Maidawn.
"WISE opened doors to help me believe in myself. If other girls [from the program] can do it, I can too!"
Looking back at her years in college and graduate school, Maidawn recognizes that she has made a lot of growth. At the beginning, she found it difficult to find support at her school. She didn’t know how to navigate the support services available and didn’t know where to start looking for resources. Maidawn was also afraid to set up meetings with her professors and advisors for support. After five years at St. Cloud, she is now more confident navigating the school system and asking for help.
“Don’t be scared to reach out to meet with professors face-to-face,” says Maidawn. “They are willing to help you from the very beginning.”
Now that she has graduated, Maidawn hopes to work with immigrants and refugees like herself. She feels she is able to connect better with individuals who experienced the same struggles coming to the US. Maidawn also hopes to be able to visit her family in Laos once the pandemic is contained.
Even though she is excited about graduating, Maidawn feels nervous about her next steps. “It’s been a struggle [to find a job] during this pandemic,” she says. She also worries about her student loans and how she can plan to reach her other life goals, such as buying a house. To future and current college students, Maidawn advises for them to love themselves and be open-minded to programs like WISE. “You have to try and utilize the program. If the program isn’t helpful, it doesn’t hurt to walk away. Take everything you learn from WISE to help you go further to the next step!”