Kaozong Mouavangsou, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Davis, is writing her dissertation on what makes a difference in helping Hmong Americans successfully navigate their undergraduate studies.
Answering the question about who is making a difference is the award Mouavangsou will receive for Community-Engaged Scholarship and Activism at the campus’s ninth annual Equity Summit on Tuesday, Feb. 19. She is one of eight individuals who will be honored.
Mouavangsou said the award only adds to the motivation and responsibility she feels to continue her work. “When I do my research, I’m not just collecting data,” she said. “It’s about me and my community and the people I want to serve.”
A Hmong American herself, Mouavangsou understands the transformative nature of education.
In 2015, Mouavangsou designed and taught the first UC Davis course on the Hmong American experience. And in a second course she created and taught last summer, she had a staff member from the California State Assembly walk students through the legislative process and recent California bills on education to show how advocacy from the community can develop into legislation.
“Just because you have an education doesn’t mean it will lead to your liberation,” Mouavangsou said. “Who is in the classroom teaching? What materials are being taught? It’s the type of education you receive that can lead you there.”
Mouavangsou, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UC Davis and anticipates completing her doctoral degree in June, is also a member of a campus group that organizes public lectures and community forums to promote social justice in education.
Other award recipients
Also receiving awards are:
- Raquel E. Aldana, UC Davis professor of law, associate vice chancellor for academic diversity and co-chair of the task force coordinating the university’s planning to become a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution, or HSI
- Nicole Anderson, an educational equity consultant from Vallejo
- Margarita Berta-Avila, a UC Davis graduate and professor of education at Sacramento State University
- Jeanelle Hope, a doctoral candidate in cultural studies at UC Davis
- Sandy Holman, a UC Davis graduate and director of the Culture C.O.-O.P. and United in Unity of Davis
- Rahim Reed, associate executive vice chancellor and interim lead of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at UC Davis
- Valentín Sierra, a UC Davis alumnus and now UC Berkeley graduate student and evaluation assistant at the Sacramento Native American Health Center
About the summit
About 300 participants are registered for the summit, organized by the Office of Research and Policy for Equity at UC Davis. Bettina L. Love, associate professor of education at the University of Georgia and an award-winning author, will deliver the keynote address titled, “We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching.”
More information about the summit and awards is available online.