Asein Ta’s story, at first glance, feels almost typical. He excelled as a student leader in the Great Expectations program at John Tyler Community College, from which he graduated last spring. He’s transferring in the fall to Virginia Commonwealth University where he will study to become an elementary school educator and an English as a Second Language teacher.
Asien’s journey has been anything but typical, however. A native of Burma, he grew up under a military dictatorship. He next lived in a refugee camp in Thailand before coming to the United States and entering foster care. His experience has given him not just a drive to succeed but goals for which to aim. He’s creating a tutoring center for Burmese refugees who live in Richmond.
Ta participated in the inaugural GE leadership program.“I want to help people. When I meet people who come from a similar past to mine, I want to support them in their daily struggles,” Asien said.
Thinking big is nothing new for Asein. He excelled as a leader at John Tyler, representing the college at the Virginia General Assembly and volunteered with new immigrants through the Commonwealth Catholic Charities, all while maintaining his G.P.A. and working at Carmax.
Refugees are not Asein’s only focus. He’s also striving to help other foster youth take advantage of what the Great Expectations program has to offer.
“I received so many benefits from this program, such as great coaching and advice on how to achieve my school tasks. This program is proof that people care about me and want me to succeed. I want every student with a similar story like mine to have the ability to be part of this great program,” he said.
Asein was a member of the inaugural class of the Great Expectations Student Leadership Institutive. There, he gained knowledge and experience to bring his tutoring center to life.
“Thanks to the Great Expectations Student Leadership Institute, I am now working on an issue that matters deeply to the Burmese Refugee community in Richmond,” he said. “I am working to network with other educators, and to develop a sustainable program that will provide basic English Language skills to any person who wants to learn.”
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