Yer Xiong works as a data specialist in the Economic Assistance and Employment Supports Division of Children and Family Services at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. She works closely with the department’s application developer to upgrade the database system, known as Minnesota Refugee Information System.
Originally from Ban Vinai, Thailand, Xiong came to Minnesota from a refugee camp at the age of 11. When she arrived, started fifth grade and only knew two words, “yes” and “no.” Since then, Xiong has earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Business Administration from National American University and Concordia University, both in St. Paul, Minn. At 15, Xiong volunteered for the American Refugee Committee, and also at HIRED, which provides job skills training and employment assistance, for 10 years.
One of the greatest aspects about working for the department is “knowing that I can make a bigger impact at the state level with my personal understanding, knowledge and skills that help me better understand the impacts of being a refugee,” Xiong said. She added she “believes it’s important that I have first-hand refugee experience of having to start life in America with nothing (and) having to learn everything new.”
When she’s not helping others, Xiong likes to canoe down the St. Croix River. She enjoys the sounds of the river and, most importantly, she catches her own meals.