14 January

Meet Eh K’ Pru Shee Wah: We’re Going To Get Her A Scholarship

by Jon Katz

I’m happy to introduce Eh K’ Pru Shee Wah, a charismatic and poised 13-year-old honor student at the Hackett Middle School in Albany, N.Y.

She spent the first 10 years of her life in a United Nations refugee camp, her family fled Myanmar (formerly Burma) during the religious persecutions there. Our wish for her is that she spends her high school years at one of the best private schools in the Northeast.

Eh K’ Pru’s family entered the United States legally several years ago. Her father works repairing windows.

I’ve entered into discussions with the Albany Academy, a prestigious private school to help them find gifted refugee students to enroll in their academic program with full scholarship support.

As you know, we have worked to support RISSE, a refugee and immigrant support group,  through donations, private support and the very successful Amazon Wish List we suggested.

We also supported the refugee soccer team, now a part of RISSE.

We can continue to support the soccer team through donations to RISSE and also through the Wish List. After we helped Sakler Moo, a gifted student from the same school,  to get into the Albany Academies, I approached several private schools with the idea of offering scholarships to other gifted refugee students.

I talked to a lot of people before I found a wonderful and dedicated teacher at the Hackett School named Kathy Faso, she enthusiastically recommended Eh K’ Pru and last Friday, I met with her and Kathy at the  Hackett school.

E K’Pru is a remarkable young woman, smart, poised, articulate. She works hard to get good grades, she a class leader, skilled both in academics and social skills. She has made amazing progress learning English language skills and acclimating to the U.S. She is very popular with the other students.

If you see Kathy with her students, you can see just what teachers ought to be. She is clear, challenging, inspiring and full of love and interest. I hope I can do this with her every year.

“She is just an amazing person and a remarkable student,” Kathy told me, “I can’t think of anyone I could recommend for fully for a scholarship program.”

I’ve met and spoken with Christopher Lauricella, the head of the Albany Academies, he is sincere about working to make his school more diverse.  My job was locating promising students, and there are quite a few.  I have also partnered up with a senior at the school, an impressive 17-year-old named Alex Boggess, who has made helping refugee children enter the academy his senior class project. Alex is also a gifted photographer.

I’m urging him to create a blog, so his work can be seen.

My idea was that the first student needed to be a female. Everyone else agrees.

I’ve brought this idea to several private schools in the area, they are all interested in the idea.

If Eh K’ Pru is admitted to the Albany Academy, the school will offer her a scholarship. There are many refugee children in the Albany Public  School system, their teachers work long hours and seem especially dedicated. But the classes are small, and funding a struggle.

At the Albany Academy, Eh K’ Pru will be challenged in a way she wants and needs.

I don’t know the amount yet.

Alex will assist in fund-raising for this project from the school community, and if we need further assistance, I’ll ask for  help from the Army Of Good or we’ll consider a gofundmepage.  I hope that won’t be necessary.

I’ve made the argument to the school – and will continue to make this argument – that if they are serious about being diverse, they will consider that refugee families have little money to spare, they will need a full scholarship one way or the other. I believe Christopher Lauricella is quite serious, he is on it and he is also impressive.

I can testify that a lot of the people I contacted don’t care about this issue. He does.

I’m meeting with school officials and Chris and Alex and financial aid staffers on February 2nd. I spent 45 minutes with Eh K’ Pru last Friday, she is gracious and hard-working. She is, in fact, remarkable, just as Kathy said.

Eh K’ Pru loves Hip-Hop (Amigos) and wants to work in business after college.

Why business?, I asked. “Because no one in my family has been able to work in a big business,” she said, “I want to be the first person in my family to do that.”

Eh K’ Pru is a perfect match for the Albany Academy, whose students often enter the business world at the highest levels.

I am excited about this new direction when it comes to refugee support. I think we can change the lives of some of these very gifted and deserving children.

I had nothing to do with getting Sakler Moo into the Albany Academy, but the Army Of Good was able to help bridge the gap between what the school could offer him and what he needed. Sakler’s experience inspired me. He also had the support of one of his teachers.

I think this is a strong plan. The school is a partner with me on this, and so is Alex. Chris Lauricella reached out to me and asked for my help. He wants this to happen. So do I, especially after meeting Eh K’Pru Friday.

I believe this is the most effective way for me and the Army Of Good to help the refugees and their family. It is, in so many ways, about the children. I hope you will continue to support RISSE and the soccer team, and also, the ballet dancers.

We can help in a thoughtful and focused way.

Thanks. I’ll keep you posted on the effort to help Eh K Pru enter the Albany Academy.

And special thanks to Kathy Sosa. I tried contacting a lot of people, many teachers and even the refugee groups blew me off. Kathy answered my call and went to work on behalf of one of her most gifted students.

She is a hero here. So is Christopher Lauricella.

I am determined to do everything in my power to make this happen. Every year. Stay tuned, this needs to happen.


  1. This photo captures a beautiful and strong spirit. And your work reflects that back to you. Thank you, in peace and gratitude.

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