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“I expect that my research will serve as a voice to the underprivileged and as a light to the privileged.”
PROFILE: As a political refugee from Bhutan, Yeshey Pelzom spent ten years in Nepal before coming to the US in 2000. For the past few years, she has been earning a degree with honors in English—her 5th language after Sharchop, Nepali, Dzongkha, and Hindi. Her biggest challenge so far has been pursuing her education as a mother and wife. “Although my thoughts are no longer limited to what I should cook for the next meal or if my husband and son have clean socks, many times I find myself having to overcome the social stigma of being a married woman going to college. Being a student of English literature does not help.”
Undaunted, Yeshey has found English literature to be not only liberating but empowering. “I have succeeded in making myself a role model to my fellow immigrants, and I have become the first woman in my community to join college.” Her determination was evident early in her life, when she raised questions and expressed sympathy for the oppressed in Bhutan. The more she was asked to be silent, the more questions arose in her mind. Once exiled as a result of her words, Yeshey is now in a position to take her voice—and those she speaks for—to a larger world stage.
INSPIRATION: Yeshey once spoke at a United Nations meeting in Geneva, where she was frustrated by her efforts to enact change for Bhutan. “I knew that if I was an expert, my words would have had more effect. It was in Geneva that I promised myself I would go back to school.”
ASPIRATION: Yeshey would like to become a professor and an advocate for human rights.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Yeshey volunteers as a health promoter for the Refugee Women’s Network, as an English as a Second Language teacher for the Clarkston Community Center, and also devotes some of her time to conducting research and writing reports for the Association of Bhutanese.
ACCOLADES: Yeshey is a recipient of a Phi Theta Kappa scholarship, the Janef Newman Preston Prize for Fiction, and the George Groman Award for Analytical Writing.
INTERESTING FACT: Yeshey loves to dance.
Paul Anthony Casison