“Do what you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. That’s what I’m doing. I’m here doing what I love,” May Lee Moua-Vue said, who began her role as the director of International Student Services and Global Studies at SMSU Jan 6.
Moua-Vue who came to the United States from Laos as a Hmong refuge during the Vietnam War. “I love working with international students. I’m passionate about it because I see myself; I see the struggle of my family growing up. That’s very much international students going through when they first arrive. I think I have a little bit more patience, because I see myself,” Moua-Vue said.
Moua-Vue is the first generation of her family to receive a higher education. “Most members of her refugee community did not attend college,” Moua-Vue said.
“I’m happy that I’m here, but it was a very challenging time for me because I didn’t have anyone in my community to teach me or show me the way. My family came from a humble background and didn’t know anything [about] what to do after high school. I was a very good student and my advisors and teachers were telling me when I was young, you should go on to college,” Moua-Vue said.
Moua-Vue earned her doctorate in higher educational leadership form Northern Kentucky University in 2017. “I didn’t have any idea what college is about, but I found my way and I was able to have really good advisors along the way,” Moua-Vue said.
She worked as an International Student Services Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 13 years before becoming an assistant director at International Student & Scholar Services at Xavier University for seven years in Cincinnati.
Moua-Vue has ambitious plans for SMSU. Along with supporting students and making sure SMSU is in compliance with US Federal Regulations, she plans to expand global study opportunities for students. “We want to more international student come to SMSU and more students from SMSU can study abroad. Global services is kind of part exchange program too,” Moua-Vue said.
Since 2016, the number of visas granted to international students has substantially declined. Moua-Vue said she thinks international students may need more preparation for the visa interview. She said relationships between governments can complicate the visa process as well.
“We want to be able to retain students and support them through having regular fun events. Helping them succeed academically and socially are what we want to achieve through the effort of the office. Maybe we did a little bit in the past, but we want to do more in the future,” Moua-Vue said.