Graduate’s decision to transfer credits, earn bachelor’s, is opening new career doors

With degree in human development and family studies, Vang hoping to pursue master’s, have greater professional impact
​Jerry Poling | July 26, 2023

After earning an associate degree in early childhood education, Pa Chie Vang was excited to pursue her passion — working with children.

She became a teaching assistant at a 3K Head Start classroom in Menomonie but soon realized how much further she could go in the field and how many more people she could impact with a bachelor’s degree.

She transferred her credits from Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire to UW-Stout to enroll in the bachelor’s online program in human development and family studies. Two years later, on May 6, she graduated. Now, the mother of 3 is planning to return to the classroom in the near future to earn a related master’s degree at UW-Stout.

“The UW-Stout courses did not just impact my professional development but also my personal development as well,” said Vang, from Menomonie.

Pa Chie Vang, 1
Pa Chie Vang, a transfer student, crosses the commencement stage May 6 to receive her UW-Stout diploma in human development and family studies. / UW-Stout

“Obtaining my bachelor’s in the HDFS program has opened up the door to multiple career possibilities and given me the opportunity to explore policies that impact families, and learn more about nonprofit organizations that work toward the greater good of educating families, community-building and advocacy.”

The transfer process was easy and the support from professors and staff throughout her experience at UW-Stout “exceptional,” Vang said.

About one-third of UW-Stout’s students are transfers, who benefit from agreements the university has with all Wisconsin technical colleges, seven Minnesota community colleges and other colleges. For transfers hoping to attend UW-Stout this fall, enrollment is open through early August. Learn more about transferring here.

“All the amazing professors I had made me feel safe enough to be vulnerable and share my own experiences so that I could grow into the person I am today professionally. I also am grateful for the MSS (Multicultural Student Services) advisers who listened to my financial concerns and provided me with resources,” Vang said.

Pa Chie Vang, UW-Stout student, enjoys building positive relationships with children at the club.
Pa Chie Vang works with children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Chippewa Valley. / Contributed photo

Vang’s parents emigrated from Laos to the U.S. in 1987. She is determined to make the most of her opportunities to honor the sacrifices they made but also, through her education, to support those who grew up in similar circumstances.

“I grew up in poverty. I watched my parents struggle to make it and raise eight children the best they could in a country that made them feel like they didn't belong. Yet, they remained humble and are grateful for the opportunity to come to America so that their children could dream beyond barbed wires and closed metal gates,” Vang said.

While finishing her degree, she worked full time as an English language paraeducator in the Menomonie school district. She also worked part time as a youth development specialist in Menomonie at the Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Chippewa Valley.

B.S. Human Development & Family Studies Online

Learn how you can foster to the needs of families with sensitive regards to relationships, culture, gender, age, and life stages in your human services career.
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“I am part of marginalized and underrepresented populations. I was a Head Start child, as well as a Head Start parent when I became a parent. Working in the center (3K program) helped me realize that even though I love working with children, my passion was in working with families as they navigate socioeconomic hardships, parent education and access to resources,” Vang said.

Head Start is a federal program that supports low-income families.

“I am determined to better understand my own upbringing and the hardships my parents endured, as well as to gain more knowledge in working with families, especially those in marginalized, underserved and underrepresented populations and groups.”

Committed to supporting transfer students

Another May 6 graduate who began as a transfer student was Cecilia Knudsen, of Lino Lakes, Minn. She began her higher education journey at Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

Her degree is in graphic design and interactive media, a program offered on campus.

Cecilia Knudsen, 1
Cecilia Knudsen, who transferred from a community college in Minnesota, earned her UW-Stout degree May 6 in graphic design and interactive media. / UW-Stout

“My years at Stout were no doubt exactly where I was meant to be and helped me develop into a lifelong student,” said Knudsen, who received several scholarships and was a member of the Blue Devil Dance Team.

“I am continuing to grow into a well-rounded and open-minded individual ready to continue to make an impact on the lives of others wherever I go.”

Read more about Knudsen and Vang.

Online, UW-Stout has 14 bachelor’s programs, 15 Graduate School programs and numerous certificates and certifications. Learn more at Stout Online.

“UW-Stout is committed to creating a welcoming environment for transfer students and ensuring that the credits earned transfer smoothly,” said Darren Ward, associate director of Transfer and Articulation.

Admissions at UW-Stout is in Sorensen Hall.
The Admissions Office at UW-Stout is in Sorensen Hall. / UW-Stout

The Admissions transfer team, in Sorensen Hall, helps students better understand how their credits may apply. The team also helps potential transfer students determine which classes they should be taking to align with their program of interest at UW-Stout.

“While UW-Stout tries to accept a majority of the credits that a student takes, applicability to a particular program is maybe the more important part,” Ward said. “It is strongly recommended that transfer students connect early with UW-Stout while at our two-year partners to review classes they plan to transfer before the beginning of each semester.”

All UW-Stout programs have an experiential learning component. Many programs require a co-op or internship — more than 1,100 took part in the Cooperative Education and Internship Program in 2021-22.

Transfer students can find peer support on campus through a chapter of Tau Sigma, a national honor society for transfers.

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