Pang Kou Yang grew up longing for comfort and love but her schizophrenic mother was incapable of providing it. Her father tended to his eight children but Pang could not "talk to him about the things in her life that a mother is supposed to guide her through."
Five years ago, her mom's illness worsened. While Pang's father picked up his children at school, her mother locked herself in the house, killed Pang's two youngest sisters and attempted suicide. Today, with her mom hospitalized, her father working and many younger siblings to help care for, Pang feels great responsibilities at home. Instead of giving in, she works hard to fulfill the role of a mother. She says, "I am the oldest child in the family I have to lead the way because if I don't, there would be nobody else."
Pang excels at Highland Park High School with a 3.96 GPA, participates in Asian Club, tennis, volleyball, badminton. She also takes classes at Concordia College, volunteers, and works. Pang was honored for perfect attendance, is a member of the A honor roll, has earned the Presidential Award, and lettered in varsity tennis.
Though her father speaks limited English and did not attend college, he encourages Pang to study hard and further her education. Her dream is to attend Hawaii Pacific University and become a physician. She describes herself as quiet, hard working and patient. She wants to be a "role model" for her younger siblings to keep them in school and out of gangs, so they too, achieve their dreams.