Nov 15, 2010
Finding Success Along the Way
Pa Lee Moua's career pathway has led her to rewarding opportunities enriching the lives of others.
Pa Lee Moua started classes at Fox Valley Technical College in the fall of 1998, determined to succeed.
At 18, she was already a wife and a mother. She knew that enrolling in FVTC’s Administrative Professional program was the right path for her to attend college and forge ahead with a career. And she knew that many members of the Hmong community, including an older sister who hadn’t been able to attend college, were watching. They were pinning their hopes and dreams on her success as well.
“Failing wasn’t an option,” Moua recalls. “It was find a career and taste success, or crumble and not be able to support myself or my family. There are many options for higher education; you need to find the one that best fits your needs. Fox Valley Technical College was the right path for me.”
The determination that helped her earn an associate degree from FVTC in 2000 has since helped her finish both a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Lakeland College in 2003 and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh in 2006. Today, she is the assistant dean of students for Multicultural Affairs at Lawrence University in Appleton—and the recipient of FVTC’s 2010 Outstanding Alumni Award.
“I feel very privileged to have earned this award,” Moua says. “But I didn’t do it alone. It takes not only a lot of will power, passion, and motivation, but also people power. In my opinion, networking is the key to opportunities. And that’s what I experienced from my husband, my parents, and the people at Fox Valley Tech.”
Laying the Groundwork
It was FVTC’s flexibility that made it all possible, Moua says. She needed to take classes at night and have online options as well. At FVTC, she could. She needed to stay close to her Appleton home. At FVTC, she could. And she needed to feel comfortable as a student. At FVTC, she did. “Some students were right out of high school, like I was,” she says. “But some were nontraditional with young children. They could understand what a young mom like me was going through. The mixture of traditional and nontraditional students was very important to me.”
So was the support network that surrounded her at FVTC in the form of Rita Van Groll and Willie Pekah, who noticed her skills and outgoing personality. They recommended her for a job as a minority retention specialist in the Minority Student Services center on campus. That experience and the connections she made there helped her become a multicultural advisor at an area two-year university before landing her current job at Lawrence University.
FVTC, Moua says, laid the groundwork for all of those experiences. She can now see that her experiences at the college were the stepping stones that led her to where she is today. “It was the starting point for everything,” she says. “When I reflect back on the courses I’ve taken, people I’ve met, and the hands-on experience I’ve gained, I know that Fox Valley Tech was the foundation for what my life is now.”
She also knows that her success sets an example for the rest of her family and the Hmong community. Her family and friends were all on her mind when she accepted the Outstanding Alumni Award. “I felt like I was living everyone’s dream along with my own,” she says.