WORTHINGTON - Pwe Ku describes himself as someone who doesn’t take anything for granted.

That includes graduating from high school. Ku and more than 200 other Independent School District 518 students are set to earn their diplomas between two graduation ceremonies this week. Area Learning Center graduates will begin their procession at 6 p.m. Thursday in the ALC Gymnasium, while the WHS graduation will begin at 7 p.m. Friday in the WHS Gymnasium.

For Ku, graduating from high school is an accomplishment worth celebrating. As a refugee from Burma (Myanmar), Ku said he’s grateful for the opportunities the Worthington area has provided him.

“After World War II the Burmese lost power,” Ku said about the longest civil war in world history that continues today. “The military regime kept burning villages. It got to the point where my parents had to leave.”

When Ku was 6 years old, his parents, Sec Collar and Say Gay Moo, moved the family to Minnesota. He attended Edgerton Elementary in St. Paul for two years before the family found their longtime home in Worthington.

His childhood and experience as a refugee inspired him to pursue a career in medicine.

“We didn’t really have that good of health care in (refugee) camps,” he said, adding that it was once his mother’s dream to become a doctor, but she was unable due to ongoing war. “She made me choose whatever I wanted to do, but I chose to do the things she never could have done.”

Beginning this fall, Ku will major in biology at St. Cloud University on a pre-medicine track. Second to his older sister, Ku will be one of the first in his family to attend college.

Although he isn’t sure exactly what he hopes to do in the medical field, he knows it will be with others in mind.

“I wanted to do something that was not only beneficial to me but other people, too,” he said of his decision to practice medicine.

At Worthington, the 18-year-old has become known for his musical talent. An active participant in band, orchestra and choir, Ku plans to minor in music this fall, where he’ll room together with 2018 WHS graduate Smile Boo.

“I can’t really explain it,” Ku said about his love for music. “It’s soothing to my soul, and I don’t want to waste the potential I’ve been given.”

Ku attended All-State Choir this year, where he sang as part of the All-State Tenor Bass Choir.

“It was pretty fun,” he said. “I met a lot of people with the same passion and drive.”

He’s also been active in basketball and track, although a hamstring injury ended his track career earlier this season.

As a National Honor Society member, Ku has also volunteered around the community.

Ku called his upcoming graduation bittersweet.

“It’s also an ending of a new beginning,” he said.

He expressed thanks to the Worthington community, school district and his teachers, adding that the diversity he experienced growing up helped shape him into the person he is today.

“Most importantly I thank God,” Ku said. “He helped me (and my family) through a lot.”