Sonoma State University junior Cindy Cha is hard at work in her third year of a Biochemistry degree. Balancing college coursework and a job is challenging enough, but Cha has a new title that will add another responsibility: “Miss Hmong California 2018”.
Cha, a first-generation college student from Marysville in Yuba County, won the title at the annual Miss Hmong California competition. She wants others to know the pride she has in her heritage – even if she’s not an expert in the Hmong language.
“Being a Hmong-American means progressing in the Hmong community… trying to better the community,” says Cha. “Being yourself allows the Hmong community to appreciate you for who you are and what you stand for."
Cha saw the Miss Hmong California contest, held annually since 2005, as an opportunity to bring another perspective to her culture. “My aunt and uncle were the ones who encouraged me to join the pageant and go for it,” says Cha. “I found it important because one has to be proud of your culture because it shapes you to be the person you are.”
Cha who is a member of the SSU’s Hmong Alliance Association, Zes Hmoob hopes to use her new title to bring a new level of meaning to the position. “The projects I have planned for this year include funding money to create scholarships for high school seniors and also for undergraduate students.”
Cha is already thinking about the future and hopes to leave a lasting impression for the future Miss Hmong contestants. “My advice is to be yourself because nothing is more powerful than rediscovering your own voice.”
Cha is a graduate of Lindhurst High School and the daughter of Teng Cha and Jennifer Yang. She wants to continue on to medical school after graduation to become an anesthesiologist.