This year, the Superintendent’s Award of Distinction, an award that recognizes exemplary student achievement in the senior class, was given to Hillcrest graduate Panuwater “August” Chuprajak, a first-generation immigrant from Thailand.
In an inspirational commencement address, Chuprajak recounted the many challenges that he, his sister, and mother faced upon deciding to flee a life of comfort in Thailand for a very uncertain future in the United States. He also spoke of the debt of gratitude he felt toward his adopted country and of his plan to give back by serving in the Army National Guard.
Canyons Superintendent Dave Doty, who heard Chuprajak’s tale for the first time when Chuprajak spoke at Hillcrest’s graduation rites, says Chuprajak’s story “demonstrates why public schools are critical to our nation. Public schools form the bedrock of our country because they bring all kinds of people Christian and Muslim, native-born and immigrant, rich and poor together to give them opportunity and help them succeed. I am proud of August, and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”