Alumna Story: Discovering Your Passions Afterschool
Growing up in St. Paul, Suney didn’t see her parents much. Immigrants from Laos, her mom and dad worked many jobs to make ends meet for their family of eight. When she was in sixth grade, Suney joined a YWCA Minneapolis Girls and Youth summer program through the Beacon Learning Center at Hmong International Academy (HIA).
“I remember having so much fun, making friends and having lots of new experiences that shaped my life.”
Extracurriculars in Botany, Camping, Swimming and More
“I remember having so much fun, making friends and having lots of new experiences that shaped my life,” Suney says. This program includes hands-on workshops on science, writing and botany along with camping, swimming and other outdoor activities. Suney points out that children of immigrants aren’t often exposed to extracurriculars or discussions about college and careers. “What I learned stuck with me and helped me in my decision-making along the way,” she says.
“No one tells you how hard growing up can be.”
Suney returned for a time to YWCA Minneapolis as an instructor in the afterschool program at Beacon HIA. She worked with middle schoolers and ran the Leadership Team, which provides opportunities for youth to design and implement their own projects with community impact. “No one tells you how hard growing up can be,” she says. “I encourage kids to think for themselves, work hard for what they want and never give up on their dreams.”
Discovering Passions in A Safe Place
“Afterschool is where children can discover their passions in a safe space with a nutritious meal,” says Suney. She relished her role as a trusted adult and mentor for her students. Now, she is preparing for her future and focusing on her studies at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.