College of Education and Human Development

Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development

Zer Vang

  • Pronouns: she/her

  • Doctoral Student, HRD

Zer Vang

Areas of interest

  • First-generation and underrepresented college students
  • Student access and retention
  • Southeast Asian American college student experiences
  • College student mental health
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion spaces and engagement in higher education

MSW, University of Minnesota, 2013
Multicultural College Teaching and Learning Post Baccalaureate Certificate, University of Minnesota
BS, Family Social Science, University of Minnesota 2007


I am a dedicated and passionate advocate and educator for students, particularly those who are underrepresented. Coming from a low-income background and being a first-generation student, I have committed my personal and professional work/career to supporting students in accessing and navigating higher education and creating and maintaining inclusive and equitable spaces.

I am currently a doctoral student in OLPD Higher Education and a Teaching Specialist (part-time) for the College of Education and Human Development First Year Experience. Prior to this role, I was the Director of Student Recruitment for the Morrison Family College of Health at the University of St. Thomas. I have over 15 years of experience working and supporting students in both secondary and post-secondary institutions. In my previous roles, I have also served as the Director of MSW Admissions and Alumni Relations at the School of Social Work; an Academic Advisor in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota; Student and Family Services Director at LearningWorks at Blake: A Breakthrough Program; and High School Program Coordinator at College Possible. I served on the College of Education and Human Development's Alumni Society Board of Directors (President in 2014) and currently serve on the College Possible Minnesota Board and the University of Minnesota Alumni Association’s Inclusion and Belonging Committee.

Within my time at the University of Minnesota, I have been awarded the Campus Climate Micro-Grant for co-founding the Hmong Affinity Group and the Professional and Administrative Council Professional Development Grant.

I live in Oakdale with my partner and two children (4 and 1).


Kaler, L. S., Fulton, L. N., Vang, Z., & Stebleton, M. J. “You should be home snuggling your baby.” Scholar-mothers navigating maternal microaggressions in the academy. In H. Oliha-Donaldson (Ed.) Confronting critical equity and inclusion incidents on campus: Lessons learned and emerging practices. Rutgers University Press.


Lewis, J., Smith, G., Vang, Z., & Yan, L. (2022). Real Conversations about Race: Invisibility and the Model Minority Myth. Virtual Panel Discussion for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Century College.

Vang, Z. & Johnson, S. (2021). Advancing Equity & Justice in Social Work Higher Education: Implementing Equity in Social Work Education. Virtual Presentation and Workshop for the Minnesota Conference of Social Work Education Advancing Equity and Justice in Social Work Education: A Dialogue.

Lyons, R., Munnich, J., & Vang, Z.. (2021). Opportunity Gap. Virtual Panel Discussion at the University of St. Thomas.

Kaler, L. S., Fulton, L., N., Vang, Z., & Stebleton, M. J. (2020). Combating maternal microaggressions: Exploring scholar-mother experiences. Association for American Colleges and Universities: Diversity, Equity, and Student Success Conference. New Orleans, LA. (Conference canceled due to pandemic)

Vang, Z. (2019). Invited speaker for College Possible’s Circle of Impact Fundraiser Event. Minneapolis, MN.

Vang, Z., Fletcher, K., Dziengel, L., Hilger, S., Parker, J., Even, J., Schock, M., Shatila, S., Van Pay, S. (2019). Getting your masters degree in social work: when, why, and how? Presentation session for the Minnesota Social Services Association. Minneapolis, MN.

Vang, Z., Abdi, N., Mulla, S. (2018). Complex Identities: refugee and immigrant first-generation students. First Generation Institute. Panel Discussion. Minneapolis, MN.

Vang, Z., Her, K. (2018). Supporting the Invisible Asian American Student: Data, Disparities and Recommendations. Presentation session for the Tate Conference at the University of Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN.

Schmitz, R., Vang, Z. (2015). Working with First Generation College Bound Students: An Intervention. Presentation session for the Minnesota Association of College Admissions Counselor. Minneapolis, MN.

Vang, Z., and Lor, N. (2015). Celebrating 40 Years of Hmong: History, Educational Attainment Trends, and Myths. Presentation session for the Minnesota College Professionals Association. White Bear Lake, MN.

Vang, Z., Bui, M., Pillman, R., Quintanilla, D., Vang, X. (2014). Beyond the Classroom: Expanding Conversations in Educational Access. Sixth Annual National Partnership for Educational Access Conference. Panel Discussion. Minneapolis, MN.

Vang, Z., Yang, B.S. (2013). Invited trainer for College Possible AmeriCorps’ orientation training on the Hmong Community. St. Paul, MN.

Vang, Z. (2011). Invited speaker for Admission Possible’s Idealist Luncheon Friend/Fundraiser Event. Minneapolis, MN.

Vang, Z., and Cheng, D. (2009). Guiding the Way to Higher Education: Families, Counselors, and Communities Together. Presentation session for the Hmong National Development Conference. Appleton, WI.