Refugee High School Student Receives Gates Millennium Scholarship


Her Goal: To Open Eye Care Centers for the Poor

Tika Khadka was one of 52,000 applicants for a Gates Millennium Scholarship. She will graduate from Lewis and Clark High School on June 9, 2014 and attend Whitworth University this fall.  Her scholarship will cover all of her expenses through her PhD.  She describes the scholarship as “like the good morning sunshine of my life.”

Tika is a Nepali refugee who escaped the ethnic cleansing in the country of Bhutan.  She lived under dire conditions in a refugee camp for 14 years, prior to coming here.  In 2010, the U.S. government invited Tika and her family to live in Spokane.. Tika is a Lewis and Clark High school student trained by Refugee Connections to present workshops to Nepali elders in Spokane.  She quickly demonstrated her disciplined work ethic and impressive leadership skills.  She is now employed by Refugee Connections as a Cross-Cultural Navigator.

Tika Khadka writes, “I learned to read and write English three years ago, after I came to the United States.  Adapting in the new culture and learning English were the most difficult hardship[s] which I had to endure…  I knew I had to struggle to overcome, and for this, hard work and determination were necessary. So, I started carrying the impatience in my heart to learn English… going to the library to borrow books (even though I couldn’t read) but just to give it a try, listening to peoples’ conversation on the city bus, not exactly knowing what they were saying, but just to capture English words, and convincing the church members to talk to me so that I could improve my speaking … Eventually, my goal is to become an optometrist … because, I started wearing glasses at the age of four in a place, Nepal, where eye care centers are rare and outrageously expensive, while my parents had to struggle to put food on the table. So, I want to open eye care centers which are more accessible and affordable for poor. “

This story was submitted by Susan Hale of Refugee Connections, one of the newest members of our community of tenants.

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