Every Student Succeeding: David Jasuan
David Jasuan was born in Myanmar to a Christian missionary. As a result of government persecution, David and his family were forced to escape the country. They crossed the border from Myanmar to Thailand and then to the Malaysian jungle. Thanks to the United Nations Refugee Agency, David and his family were able to emigrate to the United States. David eventually enrolled at Valley Charter High in Modesto as a freshman. He felt a responsibility to himself and his family to make the most of his opportunity to receive an education and it showed-he graduated this spring with a 4.17 GPA and 39 completed college credits. With nothing left standing in the way of his future… there's nothing he can’t do.
Sept. 5, 2017
Burmese refugee thrives in Modesto
David Jasuan is the type of person who does not take anything for granted. He’s also the type of person who never turns down the chance to learn.
“I just always look for opportunities to better myself or do better and better,” David said. “Opportunity comes up to take college credits. Why not? Take it. Opportunity to join leadership. Why not? Take it. Opportunity to run for office. Why not? Take it.”
To understand his motivation, you have to go back to his childhood. David was born in Burma, now known as Myanmar. His father was a Christian missionary who preached the Gospel. Those teachings were considered subversive as Theravada Buddhism was the religion endorsed by the government. As a result, David and his family were forced to escape the country.
“We took a boat from Burma to Thailand and from Thailand we were put in a van,” David recalled. “We were squished together with another 30 people or so. We crossed the border from Burma to Thailand and Thailand to Malaysia. And we lived in Malaysia for 5 years. About the first year or so, we lived in the jungle.”
David and his family immigrated to the United States with the help of the United Nations Refugee Agency when David was thirteen years old. They landed in Modesto where they found a pair of guardian angels in Jeff and Pam Scholl.
“My wife and I, we work with refugees on the Thai Burma border,” Jeff Scholl said. “And while we were over there for a length of time, we got an email from a friend who said, ‘Guess what? I work with refugees and there’s new families who have just come from Burma.’”
The Scholls not only provided resources and support to the Jasuan family. Jeff, a teacher, offered to take a year off from school in order to homeschool David.
“I don’t know how I’d be doing if I was in a big classroom setting the first year that I got here,” David said. “And he homeschooled us with two other boys who just got here too. It really helped us settle in.”
David enrolled at Valley Charter High as a freshman where he did not waste any time. He felt a responsibility to himself and his family to make the most of his opportunity to receive an education.
“He has great resilience and motivation,” Pam Scholl said. “And the gratitude for the freedom to have an education. And so because of that, he’s willing to take everything he can and run with that.”
David graduated from Valley Charter High in May with a 4.17 GPA and 39 college credits. But it was his positive outlook that captured the attention of educators. David found true joy in recognizing how far he’s come after a childhood filled with challenges.
“I always see the bright side,” David said. “Always see the opportunity. Capitalize on it. Staying positive. Keeping a positive attitude. Just be positive. Always look at the positive side of things.”