Dao values the supportive environment and faith-based education that Northwestern offers. "I love that we're so open about talking about faith," Dao noted. "Coming here, we pray before we start and professors share their faith—faith is incorporated into our programs, our syllabus, and our textbooks. It's great we can talk about God here and feel safe about it."
Not long after she began her first degree program, she found out her two-year-old son had autism. "I was ready to just quit," Dao remembered, "It was a really hard decision and my professors even prayed for me. I decided, 'If I don't do this, I'm never going to do this.'" She persevered.
Now her son is a driving force for her to reach for her goals. With the leadership skills she is gaining she hopes to start a support network for Hmong families who have children on the autism spectrum. "I really want to be a great example for my kids—especially my son," Dao said.
"If I learn as much as I possibly can, I can set my kids up to be successful or do even more than what I do. That's when I will look back and say, 'This was all worth it.'"