UW-La Crosse student chosen Wisconsin's 2018 Student Activist of the Year

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - A senior at UW-La Crosse is named student activist of the year by the Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies.

Yer Xiong will receive the award at the annual faculty and student conference in Madison today.

Xiong, who is majoring in women's studies and minoring in ethnic and racial studies, was nominated by Professors Mahruq Khan and Deb Hoskins for her extensive activism in support of the Hmong community on campus, in La Crosse and worldwide.

The Professors said Xiong has worked to improve communication, understanding and respect in the community and with cross-community bridge building.

“She has developed a truly impressive track record of dedication to racial and gender justice,” says Hoskins. “This honor will help her expand her network of contacts to further the work she plans to do next.”

Faculty nominate students for the award presented annually to Wisconsin college or university students who have “made an outstanding contribution to activism related to peace and justice issues.”

On campus, Xiong serves as a student senator and is co-chair for the student organization HOPE, Hmong Organization Promoting Education. The organization works to educate Hmong students on how to be Hmong, as well as American. She advocated hard for a Hmong studies certificate program that includes language classes. 

Xiong is a member of UWL’s Awareness Through Performance (ATP) troupe, an award-winning program that educates the campus community on issues of race, gender, heteronormativity, disabilities and more. The troupe performs skits written by members on their own experiences.

“The impact of Yer’s work is unquantifiable but real for the young people and the elders she has touched,” says Hoskins. “It will not reach its full fruition for many years, but it is considerable already.”

Xiong has taken her social justice activism to an international level. She has participated in two conferences. In Chiang Mai Thailand in 2016 she was an ally participant at the Global Hmong Women's Conference and a co-presenter at the International Hmong Studies Conference.

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