Pao Thao, Saint Paul, Minnesota
Harding Senior High School
After facilitating four workshops for the Saint Paul Public Schools’ Hmong Parent Advisory Council (HPAC), Pao realized that the council did not consist of any students—only parents. Hmong parents’ concerns pertained to testing and inadequate test preparation materials. In an attempt to capture the student perspective, Pao conducted an online survey and presented the results to HPAC. Hmong parents soon learned that many Hmong students struggle with their bicultural identity of being both American and Hmong, bullying, discrimination, and feeling secluded in their mostly white school environment. Pao’s data altered the perspective of both the HPAC and the district’s Board of Education’s understanding of Hmong students. Pao is a Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) Scholar, a youth mentor, a Hmong Youth Cultural Leader, a Breakthrough Scholar, and a Student Council Member.