Many parents hope their children will attend college some day. That includes the parents we serve who have come as refugees. But in an unfamiliar educational system, especially for people who might not have had much education themselves, this is a hard path to navigate.

B5 staff members Hsa Wah Shee and Tho Mu Paw know this first-hand. Hsa Wah Shee is Youth Advocate at B5, while Tho Mu Paw is the Site Coordinator for the 21st Century CLC afterschool program. Together with Family Advocate Carolyn Paxton, they planned an evening program for B5 students and their parents called “Love Your Future: Important Steps to Achieve Future Goals.” They invited Dr. Eric Johnson, Professor of Multilingual Education at WSU Tri-Cities, and Rachel Robertson, Site Manager for the GEAR UP program at Kennewick High School, to share their expertise.

Dr. Johnson presented information on the educational options available to kids after high school, like the differences between community colleges and state colleges and universities. Rachel Robertson shared information about the Running Start and Tri-Tech programs. They shared about applying for financial aid, and about resources (like GEAR UP) to help students in the process of applying for college.

The evening ended with a panel discussion that included Johnson and Robertson, as well as current and recent college students from within the refugee community.

As one of the panelists, Su Su Moses, said, “You don’t have to know how you’ll do the whole thing. You only have to do the next thing. You can do it.”

We hope our families learned something about the next step for THEIR children.

Panel discussion

Tho Mu Paw introducing Dr. Eric Johnson