By Dr. Kim Hwang
July 15, 2012 — One of the ongoing themes in Ms. Nancy Yang’s life stories is a Maya Angelou quote, “Wouldn’t Take Nothing From My Journey Now!”
As I listened to this twenty-five years old young woman, I could have sworn I was listening to the narrative stories of someone much older and consequently wiser. Ms. Yang was able to make meaning out of adversity and find hope within each life experience.
Attributing her successful attitude to her Asian heritage and Hmong family, Ms. Yang recounts stories of strength, compassion, kindness and hope. It is what allows her to travel in new directions as she forges ahead on her journey from Missouri to Minnesota at the age of nineteen years old.
It’s no twist of fate that what brought her to Minnesota will likely end up in a career where Nancy is able to apply what she’s learned along the way into her long-term dream of becoming a nurse. Her core beliefs and enthusiasm shared by her Hmong family help her to stay centered on focused on her goals.
“My family always supports me, and gives me good advice, because they know me,” Yang said. “They raised me right!”
“My parents are very loving and caring people,” she added. “When I grew up, people would tell me stories about my parents and what good people they were. I remember these stories and it made me want to please my parents and do well.
So, even though leaving her parents to come to Minnesota meant heading out on her own, she knew that they would still be by her side cheering her on.
Before heading north to Minnesota, Yang encountered challenges due to racism. She hated high school because there were only four Asian students in the entire school.
She experienced a lot of bullying which no one did anything about. Racist bullying was both covert and overt until finally one day, she and her sister decided not to go to school anymore. She and her sister began to avoid school in an attempt to stay away from experiences of racism.
“Most of the teachers were racist as well,” Yang said. “I hated school so much, I finally got married just to get away from school! My marriage didn’t work out because we, along with both of our families realized that my husband and I were not headed in the same direction with regard to our goals in life.”
Yang’s father, Wangseng, and mother, Lu Chang, were born in Laos. They met and married at 14 and 15 years-old.
Leaving the mountains of Laos for the flat lands of Oklahoma, her father and mother came to the United States, along with their oldest son where they decided they would raise the Yang family. Today, Nancy’s father lives retired from repairing airplane parts in Tulsa with her mother, adult children and several grandchildren.
Yang misses her siblings and unfortunately isn’t able to travel home as much as she would like due to financial restrictions. Her once a year visits hardly seem like enough.
Her oldest brother Bruce (Touh) is 32-years-old was the only child born in Laos and came to the United States when he was six. Amy, 30, works at surgical hospital where she assists with surgical procedures. Steve, 29, lives in Missouri as the new director of the Women’s Basketball for Missouri State University. Judy, 28, is an office manager in an Oklahoma dental clinic. Maria, 27, works in the mortgage department at Wells Fargo.
Nancy loves her the work as a full-time chiropractic assistant at Caron Chiropractic Clinic in St. Paul. She started working in the field at age 19, and has had the opportunity to build strengths and learn about health care.
“This is my sanctuary,” Yang said.
The doctors at Caron have respect for diversity and care about her as a Hmong female employee, she said. The clinic is open to my cultural upbringing considering the ethnic differences of others.
Yang is excited with Caron expanding and to serve the greater Twin Cities. Her position allows her to capitalize on organizational skills, interpersonal relationships and health care, which she feels will transfer well into her journey into nursing.
She has other career objectives and goals but she said her work at Caron allows her to maintain a stable life and work towards her professional success.
“I have observed the doctors and providers here care about their patients by caring about the concept of the whole body,” she said. “Believing that caring for the whole body is essential has allowed patients to experience the maximum outcome of chiropractic care.”
She said the doctors are health nuts, especially Dr. Marty, who she said cares about natural medicine and his patients taking care of more than just their backs.
Working in a predominantly Caucasian environment, Ms. Yang adds, “I have learned a lot!” Minnesota has opened her eyes to the diversity of people and their health care needs and what it takes to manage these complex needs.
Yang said she came to Minnesota for an education and a professional career in health care. She also found a place where she is appreciated for her skills and intelligence and feels invested in and pushed to her potential.
Yang said she knows that being behind the front desk means that one day she will have the opportunity to help people on the other side of the desk feel welcome, cared for and listened to in a very similar way.
“I strongly believe that all of my experiences all have meaning,” Yang said.
Regret free, her outpour of confidence and faith in experience keeps her traveling towards her goals stronger than ever.