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  • Pazee at school

    Pazee has kept extremely busy in her four years as a Purgolder at East High School.

  • Pazee chatting with classmates

    Pazee served as Student Congress vice president, while being active in the United Nations Club, the Equity Leadership Council, the National Honor Society, International Club, link crew and intramural volleyball.

  • Pazee making pottery

    Pazee considers herself lucky to have spent her high school years at East, noting that the school’s diverse community and encouragement of student activism prepared her to be a better citizen.

  • playing with ropes

    Pazee took a woodworking class and enjoyed the class for its hands-on nature and how it showed her how math can apply to everyday things —architecture, for example.

  • deep in thought

    As she embarks on a new journey at UW Madison, Pazee’s experience and determination form her own solid foundation – one which will serve her well as she grows, explores and expands her horizons.

Born in Madison of Laotian parents and one of 14 siblings, Pazee Xiong (who also goes by the name Lisa) has kept extremely busy while being extremely successful in her four years as a Purgolder at East High School. Pazee served as Student Congress vice president, while being active in the United Nations Club, the Equity Leadership Council, the National Honor Society, International Club, link crew and intramural volleyball.

She was also enrolled in UW-Madison's PEOPLE Program. This after-school tutoring program was instrumental as pre-college prep, and Pazee’s diligent attendance resulted in masterful organization and academic success. Gear Up tackled college preparation from another angle. On alternating Wednesdays, Pazee and other East High students would gather to gain exposure to the careers and responsibilities that come post-college. You can hear more about the PEOPLE Program and Gear Up in Pazee's sound clip below.

All of Pazee’s older siblings have gone to college. Two went to Madison College, while the rest attended the UW. "I don’t know how many siblings that is, because I don’t really count," she says, laughing, "but it’s a lot!" All of her younger siblings are already enrolled in pre-college programs. Coming from a family that qualifies as low-income, Pazee is thankful for the numerous scholarships she’s received – an East High Pottery Award and Chemistry Award, a Golden K Kiwanis scholarship and most significantly, a full ride to UW-Madison, courtesy of the PEOPLE Program. "That was one of the biggest scholarships I have and it’s really exciting!" Pazee plans to major in mechanical engineering and is considering adding biomedical engineering as well.

Engineering in its purest form wasn’t always appealing. As a freshman, Pazee took an intro to engineering class and didn’t like it. She took woodworking instead, in fact, and enjoyed the class for its hands-on nature and how it showed her how math can apply to everyday things — architecture, for example. She considered it her own personal engineering class, admiring the way math factored into building everything from housing to furniture. "I thought, you know what? If I like this, then I’ll probably like engineering too. So that was my inspiration." Hear more from Pazee on her favorite classes in the clip below.

How did Pazee juggle her demanding academic schedule while keeping up with all of her interests? Her matter-of-fact answer reveals a maturity beyond her years. "Just making sure definitely not to procrastinate, I think that’s one of the key things I’ve done to make sure I stay on top of my game." Though balancing educational rigor and spending time with friends and family led to sacrifices, and Pazee found it tough to find time for dance or sports while also squeezing in volunteering hours and helping out with her family, Pazee has a healthy perspective: She’ll be able to explore those facets of her personality in college. She notes that while in high school, she didn’t get many opportunities to control her own time, she’s looking forward to what the future holds. Below she describes what she's looking forward to specifically.

Pazee considers herself lucky to have spent her high school years at East, noting that the school’s diverse community and encouragement of student activism prepared her to be a better citizen. "The diversity of kids here and also just the community at East is super involved in politics…so recently East has gone out for the Tony Robinson walkout, a Day Without Latinos rally – it’s so inspirational!"

At the 2016 graduation, Pazee spoke on the theme of overcoming obstacles. She wisely observes that in high school, support abounds, and it may not be as easy out in the world without a built-in foundation of encouragement and advice. We spoke to her just before graduation to hear how her speech was coming together. You can hear her deliver it in the video clip below.

As she embarks on a new journey at UW Madison, Pazee’s experience and determination form her own solid foundation – one which will serve her well as she grows, explores and expands her horizons.

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