We are excited to share that 2022 GAP School graduate, Hay Dree Yer, was one of eight students awarded the annual Larry Lucio Scholarship.
Hay Dree is a Karen refugee and was born in Kawthoolei. When he was eight years old, he fled to Thailand because of the Burmese Military invasion. It was necessary to flee to avoid persecution and death because of his ethnicity. When he first moved to Thailand (Mae La Oon Refugee Camp), he started studying at a 4th grade level and eventually completed 12th grade and graduated. After high school, he went to Shalom Arts and Leadership College for one year. He was unable to continue his studies here because he was finally granted his visa to immigrate to the United States.
He moved to Iowa in the U.S. in the fall of 2020 and lived there for six months. He then decided to move to Minnesota in order to be closer to family and begin studying at GAP School. He started studying at GAP in April 2021 to secure his American high school diploma with the intention of attending college. Even though he had to overcome many obstacles, especially his fear of speaking in English, he is proud to have graduated with his high school diploma from GAP School on June 9th, 2022.
Hay Dree shared that his life in his home country compared to in the U.S. is totally different. In his home country, not everyone has the opportunity to go to school and it’s extremely difficult to get a higher education. In the refugee camp it is illegal to leave and seek work, therefore it is hard to pay for college. Since coming to the U.S., his mind and opinions have been expanded. He sees that there are opportunities available for everyone, and he is grateful for the opportunities available to him. When Hay Dree was living in the refugee camp it was difficult to imagine a future that included a college education. But, he has come to realize that the future is now and that he has the high school diploma, strength, and wisdom to pursue it.
Hay Dree is involved in church youth activities such as practicing songs, choirs, and fundraising for IDP (internally displaced people). He also did volunteer work during his time at GAP School, which included tree planting for the city of St. Paul, restoring buildings for Dodge Nature Center, removing invasive plants with Bailey’s Nurseries, and fulfilling AmeriCorps hours though building a green home for low-income families.
Hay Dree will be attending Dakota County Technical College this fall. He was a part of GAP School’s construction pathway and plans to pursue a career in architecture. Hay Dree has spent time learning about sustainability and hopes to design green buildings for his community to help protect the environment. He says his ultimate goal is to improve his English and to be able to give back to his community.
Congratulations to Hay Dree and the other students awarded the Larry Lucio Scholarship this year!
The Larry Lucio Scholarship was established in September of 1997. Larry Lucio is a retired administrator of both the St. Paul and Minneapolis Public Schools with strong ties to the West Side. Scholarship winners from other local high schools include Amy Alarcon, Oscar Palchizaca, Zoe Riordan, Eh Htee Shu, Htoo Law Moo, Tala Kim, and Antonio Hernandez.
In order to apply for the Larry Lucio Scholarship a student must:
Be a graduating high school senior from Humboldt High School, Guadalupe Area Program, Edison High School, Southwest High School, Harding High School, Two Rivers High School (f.k.a. Henry Sibley), Richfield High School, Roosevelt High School, Washburn High School, Highland Park High School, The FAIR School, South St. Paul Secondary, St. Croix Lutheran Academy, Minneapolis South High School, Takoda Prep, or El Colegio Charter School.
Have demonstrated community service and participation.
Have been accepted to a higher education institution.
Past GAP School Recipients:
Cristina Sanchez Ortiz (2014)
Maria Ramirez (2012)
Sebastion Delgado (2008)
Ana Ramirez Reyes (2008)
Olga Diaz Lopez (2004)
Luis Garcia (2002)
Zaira Oronel (2000)
Severo Ramirez (2000)
Soledad Flores (1999)