The Miss Grand Hmong scholarship will provide a fresh chance for Hmong students in Wisconsin who are enrolling or are already enrolled in college or university for the upcoming year. The scholarship will award a total of $10,000, $2,000 to five deserving candidates.
As part of the Hmong New Year celebrations in Madison last year, the first Miss Grand Hmong pageant was held. Miss Grand Hmong, a member of the Wisconsin Hmong Association, Inc. in Dane County, aims to be an example of the dreams and pursuit of bright futures that Hmong women contribute to the community.
Hope Luag Ntxhi Xiong, Miss Grand Hmong 2023, Tiffany Moua, 1st runner up, and KaliAuna Vargas, 2nd runner up, will be one of the few, if not the only, pageant court to offer such a scholarship. Hope Xiong, a recent UW-Milwaukee graduate, spoke with Madison365 about the value of the scholarship for Hmong youth.
“Currently, the median age of the Hmong population in Wisconsin is 20.3 years old. Many of the Hmong households are multigenerational and low income and several have barriers and lack resources,” Xiong told Madison365, discussing how many Hmong families came to America as refugees from the Vietnam War.
“One of the largest barriers that we see in our Hmong communities among the youth is struggles to continue further education. Some of the deficiencies are due to language barriers, lack of awareness and experience, and/or not having enough financial support,” Xiong added. “The Miss Grand Hmong court wants to shine some light and support current students who have aspirations and dreams to pursue.”
Education is an essential path for many in the community for a young Hmong population, since bachelor’s degree attainment for Hmong people in Wisconsin is slightly lower than the national average for Hmong people and much lower than the average for Wisconsin citizens in general. With almost 6,000 Hmong people in Dane County, Xiong emphasized the significance of opportunities that seek to educate or remove financial pressures and hurdles.
“We believe there is a need for more opportunities and scholarships as our community is still continuing to grow and adapt to society,” said Xiong “That is why Miss Grand Hmong held a financial literacy workshop back in May about four different financial areas including credit, insurance, utility bills, and education. The guest speakers were experienced professionals in these fields and are from our very own Hmong communities.”
Students can look to apply now with this form. The application includes eligibility questions as well as encouragement for applicants to express themselves individually. Xiong hopes that this scholarship, along with other methods of personal development such as workshops and networking opportunities, will continue to assist Hmong students in Wisconsin in their quest of higher education.
“The scholarship is open to college students who are attending a college or university in Wisconsin and are of Hmong descent,” Xiong explained. “They must have a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or above. We are offering $2,000 scholarships to five outstanding recipients. Of those five, there will be two incoming freshmen, two undergraduates, and one graduate student. The application is open now and will close on Oct. 6. The recipients will be announced at the Madison Hmong New Year on Nov. 5.”