University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

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Former UW-Eau Claire Upward Bound
Participant to Receive State Award


 MAILED:  April 10, 2003

EAU CLAIRE - A former participant in the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Upward Bound program will receive a state award this month for his personal and professional achievements.

Phillip Yang, formerly of Eau Claire and currently of Madison, was selected by the Wisconsin Educational Opportunity Programs Personnel to receive the State TRIO Achievers Award during an April 17 awards ceremony in Milwaukee.

The awards are given to distinguished alumni of TRIO programs. TRIO programs - such as Upward Bound - are federally funded projects that help low-income Americans prepare for and successfully complete their college education. For more than 30 years TRIO programs have provided support to qualified students by offering counseling, academic instruction, financial aid information, tutoring and other educational services.

TRIO Achiever award winners are usually people who have been greatly impacted by the programs and go on to make outstanding contributions in their professional fields and communities.

Yang was an eighth-grader who could barely speak English when he joined UW-Eau Claire's Upward Bound program.

"This young man had much to learn and many obstacles to overcome when he became an Upward Bound participant at UW-Eau Claire," said Betty Hanson, director of the UW-Eau Claire Educational Opportunity Center. "Phillip learned and succeeded against all odds."

Yang said he did not have much hope for his future in America when he arrived in Eau Claire at age 14 with limited English skills. But the Upward Bound program provided him with tutoring services and after school programs that fostered his desire to learn and achieve.

"The Upward Bound program also gave me the opportunity to visit different college/university campuses throughout the state," Yang said. "It provided me with the real-life experience of being a college student by taking classes, eating and living in the university residence hall, and interacting with college students and faculty on campus. As a result of this program's assistance, I graduated from high school with honors and was admitted to several universities.

"I am very proud of my continued affiliation with the Upward Bound program. Without this program, I would not be who I am today."

Yang earned a bachelor's degree in social work and a master's degree in guidance and counseling in higher education. He now works as an academic adviser at UW-Whitewater. Yang has been a leader in many civic activities, including the Madison Hmong New Year celebration, the Hmong Youth Leadership Training program, the Hmong National Festival, the United Refugee Services of Wisconsin Pageant Festival and the Hmong Radio Program.

"As a person of color, I always wanted to be a role model for my brothers, sisters and other minority students by showing them that many doors are open to them," Yang said. "In addition, I have tried to impress upon them that if they give their best efforts, they can accomplish almost anything. I believe the best way to do this is through education. By obtaining higher education, we enable ourselves to be successful and make our future brighter."

Yang's current civic activities include serving as the Yang Family Clan Leader, vice president of the Southern Wisconsin Hmong Association, secretary for the South Madison Neighborhood Watch Organization and chair of the advisory board for the United Refugee Services of Wisconsin KEYS program.

"Phillip serves as an exemplary role model for all of the low-income, first-generation college students that he advises," said Hanson, who nominated Yang for the award. "He also represents living proof to the Hmong community and other immigrant populations that the American dream can still become a reality for refugees and that higher education is the key to success."

Yang's nomination will be forwarded to the Council for Opportunity in Education for consideration for a national award.

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JB


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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741
newsbur@uwec.edu

Updated: April 22, 2003