First in Her Family
Among the many students of Burmese descent at Jenks High School, Lun Ciang’s story is not uncommon.
The recent JHS graduate will be the first person in her family to attend college in the United States. Ciang, who didn’t speak a single word of English when she arrived at Jenks East Intermediate in sixth grade, concluded her senior year with a 3.7 GPA. This fall, she is heading to Tulsa Community College to major in Business Management.
“I am very proud of myself, but I know I got here because of how my parents supported me,” Ciang stated. “They sacrificed so much for me, and I think they are even more excited than I am. They feel like they graduated from high school with me because I have made it this far.”
Even as her family fled Burma for a better life in America, Ciang, now 18 years old, could never have imagined the educational opportunities she would be afforded.
“I never thought I would be a high school graduate in America,” Ciang said with a smile. “It is a dream that I had, and now I’m fortunate enough to be living that dream. The fact that Jenks is such a competitive school pushed me to study harder and to get better grades. I’m a better person because I went to school at Jenks.”
Education isn’t free in Burma. Families have to pay for their kids to attend schools. Transportation is not provided. As she reflects on her time at JPS, Ciang is extremely appreciative of many things most Americans take for granted.
“Everyone here should be so grateful for free education,” remarked Ciang. “Sometimes I still can’t believe that there is a bus to pick me up and take me to school. It doesn’t exist back in Burma. What we have here in this country is so valuable and so important.”
After two years in the honors program at TCC, Ciang has her sights set on the University of Tulsa or the University of Oklahoma. She wants to study Accounting and go on to earn a master’s degree in Education. At some point in the future, she wants to be a teacher.
“I really like the teachers here at Jenks because they are so organized and so helpful,” commented Ciang. “I want to be the kind of teacher who brings out the good in my students.”
With the promise of higher education in her immediate future, the support of her family, and a sense of confidence from the challenges she has already overcome, Ciang is only just beginning to write her story. It is not uncommon, but it remains, uniquely American.