By Paul Lo
Judge, Merced County Superior Court
I was seven years old when my country fell. It was 1975 and communists had just taken over Laos. My family along with thousands of other Hmong families fled to refugee camps in Thailand, which is where we lived until I was eleven.
In 1979, my family and I were admitted into the United States, and it was about that time when education became one of the most important things in my life. We settled in Denver, Colorado and I was placed into the fifth grade not knowing a word of English. I was doing kindergarten-level work in a fifth grade class. Needless to say, the experience of coming here and adjusting was incredibly difficult. I was working from the ground up and needed something to help me rise from poverty to prosperity. Education was and still is my ticket to success.