MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Hmong-American who recently received his medical degree plans to return to Madison, Wisconsin to pursue research on using stem cells to treat chronic pain.
Yeng Her became interested in helping people regain function after spending much of his childhood at Hmong refugee camps in Thailand surrounded by people injured during the Vietnam War, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
“I felt powerless,” he said. “That lit a fire inside of me to go into medicine and try to bridge these gaps.”
The 33-year-old received his M.D. and Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology in May at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The M.D.-Ph.D. program takes eight years to complete. It starts and ends with two years of medical school and has four years of graduate school in between.
Her and his family recently moved to Fresno, California, where he’ll spend a year at a medical internship. Then he’ll start a three-year residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at University of Wisconsin-Madison Health.
He is considering opening up a clinic in Laos, where his parents grew up, and hopes to promote higher education among Hmong-Americans.
“This is the reason we’re here in the United States, that we have this opportunity,” Her said. “Education is the key.”
Her hopes telling his immigrant story will inspire others.
“Opening the door for people like myself to achieve the American dream, that’s something we should do,” he said.