Fellow Feature: Dao Xayalath, Conservation + Tech ’22 (Philosophy)

July 2, 2022

How did you end up where you are today?

I was originally born at a refugee camp in Laos that no longer exists today. My parents were refugees from Laos who wanted to come to the states to give my sisters and I a better opportunity than they had growing up. Although I was quite young when we moved to the states, I definitely felt the pressure of coming from a refugee family because I had to pull my weight at an early age so we can have stability.

I grew up Buddhist with my parents reminding us not to forget our Lao roots and they instilled very valuable values within us that I still hold onto till this day. After traumatic personal loss, I realized my life was going to change and the only way to adapt to what was to come is to create stability for myself and my sibling which I knew I could acquire through education.

Being the first in my family to pursue higher education, there is an enormous amount of pressure that I feel to succeed for the sake of my loved ones. However, I also recognize the privilege I have of being the first to pave the way for others like myself. I realize it will not be easy but I am willing to take this opportunity to tell my parents’ story through my accomplishments.

Fung Fellowship