MILWAUKEE — The sound of celebrating academic success buzzed through Wilson Park Sunday afternoon as hundreds from the Rohingya American Society gathered to honor students in the community who have recently graduated.
"I graduated 8th grade and I'm going to high school," said Sofiyah Iqbal.
"We are refugees that migrated from either Malaysia, Thailand, or Burma, we have come to a different country in order for us to achieve a better education," said Max Muhammad.
Max Muhammad is on his way to completing his bachelor's degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
"I think the reason I work so hard is to make my parents proud. A lot of the Rohingyan ethnicity couldn't pursue a better education because of the genocide," said Muhammad.
The year the US formally acknowledged that members of the Burmese military committed genocide and crimes against the Rohingya community, which drew many to Milwaukee as refugees.
"They left everything. When they came to the United States they did not have family here, they did not have friends. They all just came here. Few of them don't really have money, they just came here with the hope of starting from zero," said Muhammad.
Muhammad says the annual event is geared toward encouraging graduates and students, but also honors the parents who have worked hard to support their journeys.
"All the hard work that the parents have put in behind the scenes for the graduates to be able to make that possible, we want to congratulate them."