Wednesday, December 02, 2009
By JEANETTE DeFORGE
(Posted by CAAI News Media)
HOLYOKE - She has come a long way from a being a 2-year-old escaping from Cambodia to graduating from Holyoke Community College graduate and now pursuing a bachelor's degree at American International College.
In between, Bunthany Thap, 33, has been homeless and raised two children as a single mother working in a factory.
This year, Thap is the recipient of a unique $10,000 annual Dean to Dean scholarship given by the business departments of Holyoke Community College and American International College to a graduate interested in continuing studies in Springfield.
The scholarship, combined with financial assistance, loans and work study is allowing Thap to earn her degree in
accounting and pursue her goal to work in a college and eventually earn her doctorate.
"I am very grateful for this," she said. "It was wonderful. I was able to quit my job and go to college."
It has been a long road to college for Thap, whose father kidnapped her and her older brother so he could smuggle them from Cambodia.
Her father fought against the Khmer Rouge and was taken prisoner. After her was captured, word came to her mother that he had died. The villagers recommended she remarry and she did.
But Thap's father was alive and, when he escaped, he learned his wife had remarried. He fled to Thailand and had a chance to come to the United States with his new wife, but did not want to leave without his two young children.
Thap said she remembers little about the escape or the walk through mine fields to Thailand. But she remembers the time spent in refugee camps, meeting her step-mother, who was 15 and did not know her husband had children.