First Hmong-American to be awarded WSU doctoral degree

Ger Moua, a 1992 Mead High School graduate, will be awarded a WSU’s doctor of philosophy degree in counseling psychology on May 6. University officials said that WSU records show that Moua is the first Hmong-American student to be awarded a doctorate degree from WSU.

Moua was born in Vientiane, Laos, and is the youngest of 11 children. He and his family arrived to the United States in 1978, when he was four years old. In 1990, Moua moved to Spokane and after graduating with honors from high school received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Gonzaga University and a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Eastern Washington.

While attending the first International Conference on Hmong Studies in St. Paul, Minn., early this year, Moua discussed with some Hmong professionals the possibility of being the first Hmong-American to be awarded a doctorate degree in the state of Washington. “Based on my awareness and others’ there is not one [Hmong-American graduate with a doctorate degree] in Washington State,” Moua said.

“There was a Hmong person of Thai citizenship who came over to the U.S. to complete his dissertation at University of Washington in 2001. Besides him there is no Hmong-American of U.S. resident status or citizenship who has completed a Ph.D. in the state of Washington. There are many Hmong Ph.D. degree holders in other states, but not in Washington,” he said.

Moua will begin working as a psychology instructor at Spokane Community College in the fall. The Spokane resident is married and has five children. He describes himself as “a loving father, a very dedicated man and an active member in the Hmong community.” In addition to teaching, Moua hopes to open a private practice and provide practice and counseling for ethnic minorities on positive parent-child interactions.