A DIY queen, hopeless romantic, and strong wife and mom of four children named Tyler, Titus, Tayli, and Treven (say that three times fast), Gaochen Xiong is a force to be reckoned with. As one of our passionate Editorial Interns, Gaochen hails from Minnesota and has lived in this beautiful state her entire life. From spending childhood days in Brooklyn Park to currently living in a peaceful Dayton neighborhood, Gaochen now writes passionately to fight for justice across the globe.
With Gaochen’s heart to be part of a mission bigger than herself, this go-getter earned her Paralegal AAS degree, received her BA in Organizational Leadership, and graduated from Metropolitan State University with her Master’s in Public and Nonprofit Administration. Originally, Gaochen aspired to become a lawyer, and this goal has never left her mind. However, she’s taken an equally fulfilling and joy-filled path by investing in her family and working as a contract specialist for a public, not for profit hospital. She said her job gives her the best of all worlds with a little bit of legal, government, philanthropy, and nonprofit work.
It was Gaochen’s heart to give back that led her to volunteer with Volunteer Lawyers Network and eventually discover Dressember! Gaochen loved working as a legal aid clerk for the volunteer attorneys and teaming up with Volunteer Lawyers Network’s mission to protect and promote the basic human needs of people in poverty through the power of legal volunteers. Though, she found that her schedule grew too tight between the combo of volunteer hours, work, and family. Determined to still find ways to continue to give back to the community, Gaochen hopped on the good ‘ol interwebs and came across Dressember.
Upon discovering Dressember, Gaochen resonated with Dressember’s mission, particularly in relation to her upbringing. During the Vietnam War, Gaochen’s parents were refugees in Thailand. They immigrated to the United States and raised five daughters, including Gaochen. Growing up, Gaochen often heard stories from her parents about the challenges of raising young girls in poverty in the midst of a war-torn country. Her parents mentioned, “You’re very lucky to have been born and raised in the US. If we didn’t make it to the US, I don’t know if I would have the power to protect you or even find you, had you been stolen or kidnapped. Many young girls disappear and are sold into prostitution.” Heartbreaking stories like these ultimately inspired Gaochen to join Dressember to pursue freedom for those in slavery.
Though Gaochen discovered Dressember at a time when she thought it was too late to join, she said Dressember is highlighted on her 2018 list! She’s excited for the challenge (not to mention the fun of wearing dresses to her sons’ hockey games)! All ready and signed up on Dressember’s email list, Gaochen received an email about the opportunity to become an Editorial Intern for Dressember. She said that the chance to be a part of a mission bigger than herself and to inspire and educate others through a love of writing led Gaochen to apply. We’re glad she did as she’s now one of our wonderful Editorial Interns!
Gaochen is such a strong, determined individual, and I loved getting to know Gaochen more and learn about her powerful story. Her positive outlook on life (example: she prioritizes time to recognize her blessings every day) inspires me. For Gaochen, she especially draws inspiration from her mother and sisters. Being the second youngest daughter, Gaochen witnessed her older sisters overcome many battles. In turn, her sisters paved a strong way for their children and for Gaochen as well. She also credits her mom for raising five daughters in new country whilst navigating culture shock and learning a new language, culture, and lifestyle.
Overall, her parents’ drive to work hard and provide for her and her siblings in America is something Gaochen values immensely. She desires to instill the same morals and values for her children whilst showing them a life that transcends materialism. Plus, she just got her passport for her birthday this year and hopes to travel out of the country for the first time soon, so who knows where she’ll be next (she hinted at Scotland)!
To conclude, I’d love to leave you with one of the last things Gaochen mentioned as it particularly stuck with me:
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About the Author
Lauren Farris is currently a senior studying Creative Writing and Sociology at the University of Washington and is excited to partner with Dressember in the fight to end slavery. She also adores corgis, messy paint, mud, hiking in wildflowers, reading, traveling, and a good Lord of the Rings marathon.