PLYMOUTH — Lakeland University has established a new scholarship that honors the legacy and contributions of Col. Yong Chue Yang, who led Hmong families to the Sheboygan area in search of freedom and opportunity.
The Col. Yong Chue Yang Scholarship will award $15,000 annually to student descendants of families who were displaced by the Vietnam conflict, who qualify for admission to Lakeland University bachelor’s degree programs and who demonstrate the qualities of community service and diligence Yang embodied.
“Col. Yang showed great courage, leadership and resolve in building opportunities in this community for Hmong people facing the most difficult of challenges as political refugees,” said Lakeland President David Black. “The qualities of wisdom and diligence that were modeled by Col. Yang and then exemplified by succeeding generations in the Hmong community continue to make Lakeland a better university.”
Black noted that several families influenced by Yang have seen relatives enroll at Lakeland, some later teaching and filling administrative positions at Lakeland and one, Kashoua “Kristy” Yang, recently becoming the first female Hmong judge in the nation.
The Hmong settlement in Sheboygan mirrors the German settlers who founded Lakeland, Black said. In the mid-1800’s, German families who were no longer welcome in their homeland came to Sheboygan County in search of freedom and opportunity.
“As they overcame barriers of language and economics, they founded what is now Lakeland University as a place where succeeding generations would prepare for successful lives and professions,” Black said.
More than a century later, in 1976, Yang led Hmong families to this same community, again in search of freedom and opportunity, and again facing challenges of language and economics.
“Col. Yang was wise and determined,” Black said.
While working with religious and governmental agencies to organize and lead the Hmong Mutual Assistance Association in Sheboygan and across the state, Yang set an example for his people of gainful employment in local companies and an insistence on education for the Hmong community.
In 1985, Yang and his wife, Plia Yang, received U.S. Citizenship.
To apply for this scholarship, students will be required to attach a 100-250-word personal statement that outlines the student’s family background and the impact that community service has made in the student’s own life.
Access to the Col. Yong Chue Yang Scholarship application is available at www.lakeland.edu/scholarships. For more information about the scholarship, contact Sam Poullette at (920) 565-1022 ext. 2131.