Alumni Profiles

Mai Yang Vang, SLEWS & FARMS Program Alumni

Mai Yang Vang

Alumnus, 2001-2003 Sacramento Valley SLEWS and FARMS Program
Sacramento High School Alumnus, June 2003
University of San Francisco Alumnus, June 2008 (BS in Biology & Sociology)
University of California, Los Angeles June 2011 (Masters in Public Health & Masters in Asian American Studies)
Center for Land-Based Learning Board Member, 2013-2015 Term

I was born and raised in the Oak Park community in Sacramento, California. I am the oldest of sixteen children and the first in my family to attend college. Prior to SLEWS & FARMS, I was never exposed to agriculture. I only heard stories from my parents and grandparents who were farmers in Laos before they immigrated to the United States as refugees as a result of the Vietnam War. Through the program, I experienced first-hand the stories that my parents and grandparents told me. These stories were about farming practices in Laos and how they worked for a healthier ecosystem for the community, while providing food for the village-concepts, which were taught through the SLEWS & FARMS program.

During my last two years at Sacramento High School I was a participant in the SLEWS & FARMS program, which had a significant impact on my life. The SLEWS & FARMS program opened up leadership opportunities, gave me a real sense of support, and provided hands on experience that I could not get in the classroom. The program sparked my interest in the sciences and helped fortify my decision to enter the biological sciences. I completed the SLEWS & FARMS program during my senior year in high school in 2003. In the same year, I was awarded the Frank H. Buck Scholarship and entered the University of San Francisco where I received my dual degree in Biology and Sociology.

The program helped me develop a passion for environmental justice, sustainable communities, and conservation in Northern California. Without the experience in SLEWS & FARMS, I would have not gone into the biological sciences and would have never been exposed to the many opportunities that came after. It played a role in leading me to UCLA where I recently graduated with my Masters in Public Health and Masters in Arts in Asian American Studies.

My life has dramatically changed since I stepped on the Farm on Putah Creek. Reflecting on the past 10 years since I entered the program, I would never have imagined completing dual Masters degrees. Today I have the tools necessary to improve outcomes for marginalized communities as a policy associate at California Forward. As I continue on my path, I want to acknowledge the influence and mark that SLEWS & FARMS has left on my journey. Participating in the program was a crucial turning point in my life and opened the door to many opportunities. I would not be where I am today without SLEWS & FARMS.