Xong Lor grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota and moved to Arkansas in 2004. Despite being a first generation college student, Xong quickly learned the ropes and became Vice President of the Hmong Student Organization at the University of Arkansas. It was her leadership experience in this position that eventually led her to Gamma Eta in Fall of 2008. She currently works as an Academic Advisor for Talent Search, a U.S. Department of Education Program, at the University of Arkansas. Xong makes a difference by helping first generation and low income students get into college, which she loves.
Because of her passion for Gamma Eta, she is the Advisor for Gamma Chapter, President of the Northwest Arkansas Alpha Chi Delta Alumnae Chapter and National Vice President of Gamma Eta Sorority, Inc. This busy woman plans on returning to school in the fall to pursue her Master’s Degree in Higher Education, through her passion of working with students and making a difference. In her free time, Xong loves crocheting, sports and is starting to take on running races.
Say you unfortunately couldn’t work in education. What other profession would you pursue?
Architecture, probably. I’ve always been passionate about art and I enjoy traveling. [Architecture] is not really something that I see myself doing as a job, but I’m still interested. I did take Intro to Architecture in college, but it was unfortunately too late for me to change my major.
What is the hands-down best moment you’ve had with your students?
I went to Washinton, D.C. to be a counselor for the National Student Leadership Congress and was assigned to students I didn’t know at all. Their diversity was the most memorable part about the experience. I had kids from Guam, Denver, Arkansas, California. I really mean diverse across the country. I enjoyed working with every single one of them. A majority of them hadn’t been to Washington, D.C. (neither had I), so we were all excited about exploring. We talked a lot about different issues in society and they learned about how Congress works. Each group in the program talked about a different topic and presented it. My team talked about lowering the voting age to 16. I never had met these kids before, and after 8-9 days with them, I’m closer with them than some of the kids that I work with! I still talk to them to this day.
How did your first-generation/low income background color your experience in college?
I think it made me want to try harder. Everyone has their own experience. Being low income does affect our education. I had to deal with problems that typical students didn’t deal with. It was harder for me to get what I wanted, but in the end I became a hard-worker. Parents always want you to do better than them, and that was my mindset of going into it.
How do you balance all your leadership responsibilities?
I’ve always been busy. It’s just a lot of time management and learning how to say no sometimes. Honestly, being organized and learning how to delegate is also important. For me, I just think if you plan well and know your priorities you’ll be fine. I’ll set a day for Gamma Eta, for example. I love being busy and I don’t let it bother me. I’m really good at time management.
Who inspires you to grow?
My dad, I’m a daddy’s girl. He grew up without a dad, so my grandma has been a single mother for many years. He’s always the one who has supported me more. In my culture, there’s more stress on the girls. He took the extra step to allow me to do what I wanted to do. He worked hard for everything. What inspires me is that he comes from a background that doesn’t have an education. Having that type person around in my life that supports me is great. I am the way that I am because of him.
What are you hopes and dreams for the Gamma Eta in the future?
My dream is to be bigger. My hope is that we really understand the Unity and Sisterhood aspects of the organization. I see that we can grow. Building the passion for the organization to get people excited with what they’re doing is also important.
When was the moment you think you unlocked your potential?
I think joining Gamma Eta made me more confident. Never in a million years did I ever think I would go outside of the box and, when I reached my true potential, I learned how to lead, organize, and plan from Gamma Eta. When I finally put my resume together to look for a job, I looked at my resume and I was shocked at how competitive it looked. Gamma Eta has connected me everywhere.
What’s your most memorable GH moment?
Woodser 2012 because I’m a nerd and love nature and camping. Usually Woodser is stressful because we have to plan for it and everyone gets stressed out and mad. That year was so much fun! It was a moment where I saw everyone coming together again and having fun.
What is the craziest crocheting project you’ve ever made?
I made baby cowboy boots! My friend recently had a baby and she loves cowboy boots.