This Month’s Upward Bound graduate update comes from Thay Thao who graduated from St. Paul Central in 2010. After graduating from St. Paul Central High School, Thay attended Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. Other than being an extremely busy college student, Thay is focused on his academics and will graduate in 2014 with a BS degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Sociology. As always, it was great to catch up with one of UB’s old students and I hope you enjoy reading all about Thay’s life, after UB.
When I asked Thay to tell me about his extra-curricular activities he let me know that he’s an Orientation Leader. In this role he helps incoming freshmen transition from high school into college and helps the new students feel welcomed at Suffolk). He is also involved in the S.O.U.L.S office (Suffolk’s Organization for Uplifting Lives through Service), which helps neighboring communities in Boston by coordinating volunteer opportunities. Some of the services that the SOULS office provides include serving food in a soup kitchen and traveling to El Salvador to reconstruct homes. Thay had the opportunity to lead trips two trips to Virginia as part of S.O.U.L.S. Alternative Spring Break, and will be going for a third time this spring. During Alternative Spring Break (which year?), Thay will work with Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity strives to build homes for families that wouldn’t normally be able to afford the construction process. Thay is also involved in Greek life at Suffolk as a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Currently he is serving as the philanthropy chair.
When asked about his favorite memory from his days with UB, Thay initially said there were too many to just name one! After reflecting for a few moments, he responded with, “I think all the times we had to just socialize with one another was my favorite part. I loved the environment of Upward Bound. The atmosphere was ALWAYS positive and everyone always had good things to say about one another. I learned a lot about my peers and myself. Everything from the bus rides, to the time we had during meals, and talking with other students and staff members was so much fun! I definitely miss having such positive and life changing discussions! We truly became just like family during the summer!
While in college, Thay has created a number of new memories and shared one of his favorites with me. “I got the chance to spend a month in El Salvador in Central America. It was a service trip, helping rebuild the country. There was a civil war within El Salvador that just ended recently in 1992. Countless numbers of people lost their homes and are struggling to rebuild there past lives. I took a class about El Salvador, and during my Winter Break of 2011, I traveled to El Salvador along with 14 other students. I quickly witnessed miracles first hand. We got the privilege to hear stories from survivors and witness how enemies became friends for the sake of prosperity for their country. We saw the destruction the war caused for the country. But this was immediately over-shadowed by the amount of great and wonderful people of El Salvador! We helped build a home for a desperate family and were always treated with the greatest of bigheartedness. The amount of hope in a place where there should be none surprised us all. This experience got me addicted to helping others and has changed my outlook on life. As corny as it sounds, it was nothing short of a life changing experience. Until this experience, I had never dreamed that I would encounter such amazing experiences in college!”
Last but certainly not least, I asked Thay to share some words of advice with our current participants. I promise, I didn’t ask him to say this “A wise staff team once told me to always stay positive. I couldn’t have said it any better! SP guys! If I had to sum up what UB has taught me, it would have to be SP! I have taken that phrase and fused it with my way of life. If you stay positive, the karma will come to you! Just always be yourself and don’t be afraid to write your own story. Just do you! If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you. Keep at it; the best is yet to come guys!”
UB would like to thank Thay for allowing us to hear about his college life and we can’t wait to see him graduate!
*Thay is also the new Upward Bound academic advisor. We are excited to be working with him this year!