Staff Spotlight: Ka Vang

Apr 19, 2021

Meet Ka Vang, the Upward Bound Vision Quest Academic Advisor for South High School.

When did you start working at UMD?

January 2021

Why did you choose to work at UMD?

Minnesota has always been home to me, so I want to continue my work here. There are a couple of reasons why I’ve chosen to work for UMD. I graduated from the University of Minnesota for both my undergrad and master’s program, so I am familiar with the UMN community. I have been a youth worker for nearly my entire life. Starting from babysitting, to volunteering in programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters, to teaching, to being an academic coach to high school students.

Naturally, the next step for me was higher education. While I am currently working with high school youth, I love that I am approaching my work from the lens of a higher education professional. I also believe in representation and diversifying the workforce in colleges and universities. I am grateful that I can bring in my experience as a first-generation, low-income woman of color to the team. At the same time, I am eager to learn from the vast community that UMD has.

What do you like most about your job?

I have a very supportive and dynamic team that is a lot of fun to be around. We all work very well together because we have different skills and personalities that balance each other out. All of us are very driven and hold similar values when it comes to impactful youth work. I also love that I am always in action and doing things that directly impact students. I get to meet students and learn about who they are. To be a part of their journey of self-discovery. I get to do youth work on the front lines. I get to learn and unlearn. I get to be a better version of myself every single day working with students.

Do you have any advice for students?

Do something every day that makes you happy. Self-love and self-care is so important and sometimes we focus so much on other things in life that we forget to take a breath and simply focus on ourselves. Something I like to do is look at old photos and videos on my phone to remind myself of the life that I have. It makes me appreciative and grateful for the life I’m living.

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I like to step away from my computer and phone and do many things. Some of my hobbies include painting, running, cooking, hiking, cleaning, and crafting. Due to the pandemic, I have not been traveling as much as I usually do, so I’ve been occupying my time with trying new things. I’ve picked up rollerblading, fishing, and embroidering, just to name a few.

I love hanging out with my family and friends and try to do so in the safest ways possible. On a bi-weekly basis, you can find me at my sister’s house visiting my 2-year-old niece. She’s my absolute favorite! I am adventurous and am always eager to try something new.

More about Upward Bound Vision Quest, which is housed in the UMD Department of Social Work.