Representing Oakdale, Minnesota, United States, Kellie Xiong Chauvin was crowned United States of America’s Mrs. Minnesota in October 2018, besting seven other candidates. She was the first woman of Hmong descent to win the title.
As a child, Chauvin was bullied for being different, particularly for the way she looked. At one time, she was the only one of her friends who was not invited to join in a local parade.
Representing Minnesota, Chauvin competed in USOA’s Mrs. 2019 in February 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. She did not win the title, which was given to Danielle Salena Santistevan of Virginia.
Chauvin attributes her burning desire to serve others to her experience as someone who has lived and breathed hardship. In March 2019, she told Lake Time Magazine, “I want people to know that I, someone who grew up in a refugee camp as a child and in the first Hmong generation to grow up and receive a proper education, was bullied as a child, was forced into an abusive marriage and later lived on the streets, all to save my parents’ faces in the Hmong community.”
It was Chauvin’s longtime friend Sophia Xiong-Yang who convinced her to try her luck in beauty pageants. Here are 13 more facts about the Hmong-American beauty queen:
- Born in Laos in 1974 during a time of war, she was only 3 years old when she and her family fled to safety in Thailand.
- She avoids eating oatmeal because it reminds her of the days she and her family spent in a refugee camp in Thailand from 1977 to 1980.
- In October 1980, she and her family moved to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA.
- In 1984, she was placed in a kindergarten class with younger classmates who could read and write English better than she did.
- In 1991, she was married off by her parents to Kujay Xiong, a man she barely knew.
- She endured 10 years of abuse in the hands of Kujay, who died shortly after their divorce in 2001, and following the divorce, she moved to Minnesota.
- She and Kujay have two sons, one of whom is named George Xiong.
- After earning her associate’s degree in radiology, she took an internship in the emergency room of Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which turned into a full-time position that she held for 13 years.
- While working at Hennepin County Medical Center, she met Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who brought in a crime suspect for a health check before an arrest.
- She and Derek got married in June 2010 and since then, they have been living together in Oakdale.
- After resigning from Hennepin County Medical Center, she went to Kaplan University in Davenport, Iowa, USA for residential real estate and started working as a Realtor with Re/Max Results.
- She has donated to several Hmong nonprofits, including Hmong Empowering Women, and small companies and has volunteered as a translator at local hospitals.
- She loves photography.