Pioneer Spotlight: Angela Yang

Angela Yang

Growing up as the oldest of seven, Angela Yang was the first in her family to earn a college degree. Yang, an alumna of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, now hopes to inspire students throughout their collegiate journey. As a TRIO Student Support Services advisor and SUCCEED coordinator, she works with incoming UW-Platteville students and assists them with accessing campus resources. Her favorite part is developing relationships with students and watching them grow from their first year to graduation.

“I really get to know the students at a deeper level,” she said. “It’s such a crazy experience to see the students I have worked with from the beginning and to see how far they have come. I’m proud I’m able to be a part of it and watch it all happen and see the students grow into their elements and be their true authentic selves.”

Yang is the UW-Platteville advisor for Hmong Club and Asian Students in Action (ASIA) Club, two organizations she participated in when she was a student.

Outside of the university, Yang is a full-time graduate student pursing a master’s degree in student affairs and administration through UW-La Crosse’s online program. In her spare time, she enjoys Hmong singing, cooking and traveling, where she’s able to learn about different communities and cultures.

In August, news outlet Madison 365 named you as one of Wisconsin’s 48 most influential Asian American leaders. What does that recognition mean to you?

It took me by surprise. I was very surprised to see my name amongst so many great leaders. I know a handful of them who were recognized as well. It was shocking I made it to the most influential Asian American leaders because I don’t feel like I have made a huge impact, or even if I have, I feel like it’s been limited to the Platteville community and campus. I am very honored and thankful especially to the person or people who nominated me. To this day I still don’t know who nominated me. Ultimately, it was shocking and surprising to see myself on there.

You were a first-generation college student. How has that experience helped you in your position as an academic advisor in TRIO Student Support Services and as the SUCCEED coordinator?

Being a first-generation college student has given me so many more opportunities, especially when it comes to relating to students within the TRIO program. We serve a lot of first-generation college students and that also goes hand-in-hand with the SUCCEED program. A lot of our students are first-generation college students who come from lower income backgrounds. That is what helps me become relatable to them. I think when you are able to share a similar narrative or story, you are able to create hope, trust and build relationships with students. It is such an important part of my job to relate to students and build relationships and trust before I can help or support them. In a way, I’m a role model because I’m a first-generation college student. My parents were not really involved in my academic endeavors. They were as much as they could be, but with a language barrier and them not having that opportunity, it was very challenging. Challenges and adversity is what pushes us to become a better version of ourselves and to show others they can too. There will also be people along the way who support them through those journeys.  

Why is it important for UW-Platteville students to have the opportunity to participate in TRIO-SSS, and how can students become a participant in the program?

It’s very important and a good opportunity because TRIO-Student Support Services has different services. We offer academic  advising and coaching, but our main service is tutoring services. It helps students with their academic achievements. Tutoring is for anyone who wants it or who needs the extra motivation or support.

We also have our peer success coaching program. Students can be paired up with a peer mentor. I highly recommend that for freshmen or transfer students. They are able to link up with a peer mentor or success coach. Then those success coaches can eventually become their friend or become their mentor, and help them be more successful in college and acclimate to the new college experience.

You are a 2017 alumna of UW-Platteville, earning a degree in business administration and international studies. Why did you want to work at your alma mater?

It came to me by surprise. I was in SUCCEED when I was a freshman. I saw how SUCCEED impacted my life and how SUCCEED connected me to the different resources and opportunities. It connected me to TRIO, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and different leadership roles. It’s what I want to do. I want to help students find those opportunities and give them those resources, so they can become successful in their academic endeavors and become the leader they want to be.

As a first-generation college student, if I didn’t come through the SUCCEED program or if I didn’t participate in TRIO or OMSA, I would not have had the opportunities I have had. As an undergrad I was nominated for a couple leadership awards. I think being in TRIO, OMSA, and part of SUCCEED, I felt like I had the opportunity and there were people who could support me. There were people to help me grow and develop into the person I am today. I want to provide a similar experience to the students I am currently working with, especially incoming students, transfer students and students who are already on campus. I want to help provide hope and motivation. As long as students are able to communicate their needs and concerns to the right people, they will be able to do what their heart desires.

What’s one of your proudest accomplishments during your time at UW-Platteville?

My proudest accomplishments are communicating with students and really getting to know them on a deeper level. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I didn’t have this role. I recognize those are the moments I cherish the most; when I’m able to have one-on-one conversations with students. When students are able to share their happiness and challenges with us, we can help them together as a group. It’s a feeling of I had an impact in someone’s life or this person trusts me enough to share with me. I’m able to share my vulnerabilities with them and they are able to share them with me. At the end of the day we make it through together. It’s rewarding to see the smile on students’ faces. Those are my proudest moments, being able to share space with students and knowing I have impacted their lives in some way, shape or form.