Akeem Enjoys Academic Success

By Waz Thay, Education Specialist

Originally from Guatemala, Akeem is an Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) and is here in the United States without any family members, which adds a layer of complexity to his situation.

“I feel better now because I speak English,” Akeem said. “I have some good people around me like my teachers. I can talk to them.”

Faced with challenges unlike many peers at school, Akeem credits the teachers and other caring adults in his life for stability and academic success, including his foster parents and even me, his “Treehouse person.”

There were mixed emotions when he first started school because of the language barrier. It would cause him to go home frustrated because he felt like an outsider. Still, he did not always have the opportunity to attend school back home, so he was excited and made it a goal to learn English swiftly.

“I lost five years of school [in Guatemala],” Akeem said. “I want to do this, to be successful and take Running Start.”

A sophomore, Akeem has big goals and is excited to work toward his dream of graduating. Next year, he will be eligible to enroll in Running Start where students take college courses and earn credits while in high school.

Akeem said he appreciates Treehouse for partnering with him on “everything,” including academic support and basic needs such as school supplies and clothing.

As he continues his studies, perhaps Akeem’s biggest goal is to help his family in Guatemala. He can’t wait.

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About the Author

Waz Thay is an Education Specialist on the Pierce County Graduation Success team, primarily working at Lincoln High School in Tacoma. In his role, he partners with students to support them in completing high school or GED programs with a plan for continued success.

Comment (1)

Carol Weisbecker

March 18, 2020


I enjoyed reading Waz’s story about you. Having been to Guatemala twice as a nurse through Guatemala Village Health, I appreciate a little bit about the culture and people you left behind. Keep up the great work in school and I hope you realize your goal.



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