Ask Michelle Yang what trait she’s most proud of and she’ll tell you it’s her perseverance.
Growing up the daughter of two Laotian immigrants, Michelle saw firsthand the contrast between her Hmong culture and the majority culture in America. It helped Michelle figure out her own identity and, thanks to the encouragement of her parents, forge a pioneering path for her generation and those that follow.
“Women in the Hmong culture don’t often attain a higher education, at least in my mom’s generation,” Michelle says. “I’m proud of being able to stand as who I am and show that you’re capable of doing anything, no matter where you come from. I definitely want to be a role model for my community back home, especially to younger girls.”
Michelle’s perseverance was tested when she was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11. An active kid and avid golfer, she could have let her doctor’s insistence that she shouldn’t play sports keep her from following her passions. But that’s not Michelle’s way.
“I didn’t really listen to the doctor,” Michelle admits. “But I was able to prove him wrong and still pursue something that I loved. I think that trait that I had as an 11-year-old is still very prevalent today.”
At the Wisconsin School of Business, Michelle is as engaged and tenacious as ever. A double major in marketing and finance, she is flexing both her creative and analytical sides. She’s passionate about the ethical use of technology—an interest sparked by watching The Social Dilemma documentary—and is involved in the student organization Women in Business Technology. She’s also invested in sustainable business practices and using her career to make a positive social impact.
“Making a social impact, regardless of what I choose to do within my career path, is the most important thing to me. I really want to make sure that I am giving back and that I’m part of a company that is working towards things that I personally value. I’m looking for a company that will push me to grow.”
As someone who is deeply committed to bettering herself, Michelle has a strong sense of who she is.
Michelle (fourth from left) grew up in a close-knit Hmong community in Minnesota. “We were so in touch with everybody, and I’m really grateful for that,” she says.
“I’m really invested in self-growth,” Michelle says. “I love journaling and reflecting on my day. It allows me to give myself grace and understand my values.”
It’s those values—paired with her trademark perseverance—that also give Michelle a strong sense of how she wants to lead.
“It’s really important as a leader to hold yourself accountable to your values and to foster a community with those you’re leading. When people have a shared purpose, even if just one person starts with what they believe in, it can be revolutionary within any business.”
Who inspires you?
Both my parents, but especially my dad. He lost his family in war and spent 10 years in a refugee camp before coming to America. The way he carries himself really inspires me. He is such a positive person in my life. He has taught me to be selfless and driven.
What are you listening to?
I make a new playlist every month!
What is the best advice you have received?
Trust in my own capabilities.