Thuy Trang, a George Washington High School graduate and the oldest child of four, was recently crowned the 2013 Miss Asian American Colorado. The finale event of the Miss Asian American Colorado (Miss AACO) leadership program took place on Sunday evening, June 23rd, at Colorado Heights University Theater, where Trang competed with nine other beautiful “new friends.”
Through a series of three parts: talent performance, cultural attire and on-stage interview question, she came out on top and won the title. When asked how she felt about winning the title, she said, “I was surprised! Everyone this year was so great; everyone had a good chance of winning.”
“I looked at the audience and I saw my mom and started crying and hoped she was proud. I have big shoes to fill because Vi [2012 Miss AACO] did a great job as Miss Asian American Colorado.”
The sixth annual program is a three-month long process that focuses on leadership, individuality and community service. Its mission is to be the foundation for young, Asian-American women, ages 18-25, who seek to gain more leadership skills and networking opportunities.
Trang first found out about the program when her good friend, Lucy Tran participated in 2011. She had always admired Tran, calling her a “role model” and felt that the program was “elite.”
She said, “I’m always looking for opportunities to grow as a person and push my boundaries to get me out of my comfort zone. I also joined the program to make more Asian-American friends. I left with nine new friends and committee members that I love (Pam the most).”
The leadership program is just the beginning of a forever growing sisterhood and an inspiring program that has helped create role models in Asian-American communities across Colorado.
2013 Co-Chair, Pamela Yang says, “The Miss AACO program influences young women to become future role models and leaders in their communities; it has a ripple effect for many of those that join. Every year, the Miss AACO committee is made up of past candidates and the program gives them an opportunity to develop as leaders.”
When asked about her impression of the program, Danielle Flower, 2013 Second Runner Up, said, “I am very impressed of the mission and values Miss Asian American Colorado leadership program exhibits… the program exceeded my expectations.”
As part of Trang’s one-year title, she must pursue a service project of her choice. She did not wait long to start on her project as she traveled this summer to Vietnam to visit the Little Rose Shelter, a refuge for young girls who are survivors of trafficking. Her service project goal is to make a documentary film that will help create awareness of sex trafficking.
Trang says, “Throughout the year, I will be working on my documentary on sex trafficking with the Little Rose Shelter. I want the intro to be the basics of what sex trafficking is, the body of the video will consist of personal, true stories from young girls at the Little Rose Shelter, and at the end, I will show the audience how they can help and support these girls.”
While Trang has a very ambitious goal, she had known this is something she wanted to do even before the Miss AACO program. She feels with the 2013 Miss Asian American Colorado title, it will only take her to new heights. She first learned about the Little Rose Shelter when her high school student government helped raise awareness and funds for the shelter. As a candidate in this year’s program, Trang had already began collecting funds for the shelter and held a fundraiser along with fellow candidate, Marylyn Tran.
Together, they made an educational brochure on the issues of human trafficking and recommended ways to support. They presented the brochure at Pho Le Restaurant in Denver during a dinner fundraising event. The restaurant donated 15 percent of the event’s revenues to the cause. They earned $643 for the shelter that night. Trang presented that amount in a check to the Little Rose Shelter during her visit this summer.
However, this was not all, the ladies also created a poster saying: “I am a catalyst to end human trafficking.” Every photo taken with the poster was uploaded to the Catalyst Hope Foundation, which contributed one dollar per photo. More information regarding the Catalyst Hope Foundation can be found at www.catalystfoundation.org.
Trang is passionate not only about helping to make a difference in these young girls’ lives, but educating her peers in Colorado and overseas about the importance of ending human trafficking. When asked why this service project was important to her, she said, “It feels very unfair that these girls have no choice and parents sell them into these situations and/or they are abducted. It’s saddening to me because I realize that both my sisters are around these ages.”
On a more positive note, Trang was able to visit her family’s home in Vietnam, where her mother and father emigrated. Her dad, Hong, is from Saigon and her mother, Loan, is from the city Hue. Her parents met in Denver, Colo., wedded, and had Trang as their first child. She has lived in Denver all her life.
While away in Vietnam fulfilling a remarkable duty, Thuy left behind her three younger siblings, brother Phi (16) and sisters Huyen (14) and Kelly (12). All but the youngest sibling have a traditional Vietnamese name. When asked about it, Trang simply replied, “I know, a lot people ask me about that, I think the name was chosen to be Americanized.” And just like that, I realized that Trang and her family were living the “American Dream.”
Trang’s parents came to the United States to better their lives. Her mother, only 18 years of age at the time, came to the U.S. alone with no family, shortly after the Vietnam War. Trang says, “My mother was pale-skinned and Americans helped her get over here because of her skin color… many believed she was half-white.”
“My mother, she is very kind to others, hardworking and sacrifices a lot for the family”.
Trang’s work ethic must come from her family. This work ethic has led her to graduating George Washington High School as a Daniels Fund Scholarship recipient. She will be attending the University of Colorado Boulder in the fall, studying Biochemistry. She hopes to become a pediatrician in the future and travel to third-world countries to help them.
Trang said, “In these countries, they have really poor health and don’t have the resources. I am able to give them those resources.”
Trang is sincere and passionate when she speaks. She likes to be involved in many influential organizations. For instance, she was the president of the Asian culture club at George Washington High School and also student body vice president. While juggling these roles, she also participated in a hip-hop dance team. She hopes that as a freshman at CU-Boulder, she can partake in the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA), join various student groups in the premedical field, and be a part of student government.
Trang has so much potential in her future. She is already doing great things at only the age of 18 and can only shine brighter. She is already a role model and a leader.
In her own words, “I would like to thank everyone who supported not only me, but the other girls in this program.”
“Miss AACO is a great platform for young girls and ladies to find leaders in themselves. My advice for young girls is to challenge yourself; put yourself in situations that you would have never thought you’d do.”