In 1979, Martha Ann “Mom” Deputy started Bowling Green’s first refugee program, which gradually developed into the International Center of Kentucky and helped more than 10,000 people assimilate into the community. Martha Deputy passed three years ago, but her legacy endures.

In 2016, shortly before her passing, Martha Deputy created a scholarship through the Community Foundation of South Central Kentucky to help international refugees or their descendants pay for college, university or technical school.

“It’s her legacy to encourage education among the refugees and their children and grandchildren,” said Suzanne Deputy, Martha’s daughter. “(The scholarship) is just a little bit to help them on their way.”

On Thursday evening, GEO International High School hosted a private graduation ceremony in the Warren Central High School auditorium to celebrate its first graduating class of about 50 students. The school serves a community of multilingual students who are new English learners.

The graduating class was presented with various awards and recognitions. Suzanne Deputy presented the $1,000 “Mom” scholarship with Kathy Hunt, Martha Deputy’s sister.

“You all have overcome many hardships,” Suzanne Deputy said. “You all are amazing, and we are so proud.”

“It was the hardest thing to choose,” said Hunt, who shared optimism for the fund growing and benefiting more students. “Every one of you is deserving.”

Graduating seniors Dim Sian Nuam, Hau Khawm Lun and Hamze Dahir were awarded the scholarship Thursday.

Dim Sian Nuam, who was also the class valedictorian, delivered a speech to her classmates.

“We are the OGs,” Dim Sian Nuam said. “Every time I see a reason to give up, I see a thousand reasons to keep going. … Use what you have, and make the best of it.”

Hamze Dahir, who was also named student of the year, rallied his peers with words of encouragement, while paying homage to the students who “worked at night and came to school in the morning” – and the parents who made the choice to risk their lives so their families could have better futures.

“Today, I’m here to say, everything is achievable,” Dahir said. “You all have the power to change the world.”

Suzanne Deputy agrees. She remarked on refugees’ unique ability to overcome sometimes unimaginable hardships – and then come to another country with limited English to excel in school and thrive in adulthood.

“I can’t say enough good about them. They’re the survivors, and they’re the very few survivors that get brought to the United States,” Suzanne Deputy said. “They’re real special people.”

There were two other “Mom” scholarship recipients: E. Myo Zin and Cin San Dim, who are graduating from WCHS at the top of their class.

– Follow reporter Caroline Eggers on Twitter @eggersdailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.

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(3) comments

Absolutely Positively

Bring in 10,000 people who are largely unable to adapt to our culture and then brag about the success at assimilation. Love it.

victoria

There is assimilation and pluralism. We are now a pluralistic society. We all don't have to be the same. Our differences can make us stronger. We need to value what each person brings to the table. In the past when most immigrants came from Europe, they gave up their language, anglicized their names and now a few generations later, no one knows their heritage. It is a shame to lose that.

When you say they are "unable to adapt", I'm not sure what you're talking about. They learn our language, work in our community, start businesses. If you're talking about values, I'm not sure I like some of our values- multiple marriages, premarital sex, narcissism, no connection to how our actions reflect on our family or our community. Many of these immigrant cultures place a higher value on the family and community and less on the self. Our culture is all about me and what I want and who cares about how my actions may affect my children, my spouse, my reputation. These immigrants may not be just like us, but is it really such a bad thing?

Enough Already

Multiculturalism, (which is what is being pushed here) is a lie. The strongest nations are those that retain their national identities and where people have a common culture. The dilution of the American culture has steadily weakened this country for years and continues to create schisms between people of different backgrounds and values. When the country was undergoing much European immigration there were strict screening standards for health, a sponsor, attitudes, and whether or not a candidate would be a benefit to society or a burden. Did they have a useful trade or would they be a drain on the countries resources? MANY were rejected because they would not make good citizens. They also needed a desire to fully assimilate into their new country as well as learn the common language, English. Now, under the guise of "refugees", (which very few are) we are taking in every 3rd world person with values as far removed from Americans as we can find. We allow them to jump the line in front of people who could contribute to our country instead of drain it of resources. We employ foreign language teachers at great expense to the taxpayers to teach them English in our schools. The American taxpayer is also paying for their housing, food, education, and any of a myriad of other needs and desires. Very little is required of them except they be able to breath air. It never used to be that way. If you were admitted to the country in the days of Ellis island you were on your own but you did need a sponsor. Now the US government has become the sponsor and we are paying for it! There is nothing good about bringing in a foreign people who believe their religious law should supersede our Constitution and everyone who disagrees with them should be enslaved or killed. Those values are not compatible with this country nor is FGM or the subjugation of women. This is the kind of "culture" that is unable to adapt. They bring nothing to the table except trouble.

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