Representing Oakdale, Minnesota, United States, Kellie Xiong Chauvin was crowned United States of America’s Mrs. Minnesota 2019 in October 2018, besting seven other candidates. She was the first woman of Hmong descent to win the title.
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.
Even before becoming a beauty queen, Chauvin has donated to several Hmong nonprofits, including Hmong Empowering Women, and small companies and has volunteered as a translator at local hospitals. It was her longtime friend Sophia Xiong-Yang who convinced her to try her luck in beauty pageants.
The reigning USOA’s Mrs. Minnesota 2019 attributes her burning desire to serve others to her experience as someone who has lived and breathed hardship. 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.”
Born in Laos in 1974 during a time of war, Chauvin 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, Chauvin 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.
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.
At the age of 17, Chauvin was married off by her parents to KuJay Xiong, a man she barely knew. She said he abused her for 10 years.
After divorcing Xiong, Chauvin moved to Minnesota. She earned her associate’s degree in radiology and took an internship in the emergency room of Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which later hired her.
While working at Hennepin County Medical Center, Chauvin met Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Michael 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.
For 13 years, Kellie worked at Hennepin County Medical Center. She later went to Kaplan University in Davenport, Iowa, USA for residential real estate and started working as a realtor with Re/Max Results.