The Support Behind the Stanford Scholar: Augustin at Cristo Rey Jesuit
Augustin Khey has been a busy student at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School for the past four years. On a given day, you may have found him building something for his robotics or computer science clubs. Or maybe you grabbed a copy of the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School newspaper and read an article by Augustin about the military conflict in Myanmar and how it matters to a Jesuit faith community like Cristo Rey’s.
You may have seen Augustin around Milwaukee, working in information tech or development-IT operations for corporations like Rockwell Automation, Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren Law Firm, Brady Corporation, and Northwestern Mutual. You might have even seen him handing out PPE for the Milwaukee Consortium for Hmong Health or heard his voice on the other end of the Consortium’s voter registration phone line.
If you see him this year, you’ll probably find him preparing for his first year at Stanford University this fall, where he’s received a full-ride academic scholarship.
Thirteen years ago, this fantastic student and volunteer was nowhere to be found in Milwaukee. In fact, you wouldn’t find him anywhere in the United States, because when Augustin was young, he was a refugee in Thailand.
Augustin was born in a Thai refugee camp to the Karenni ethnic group of Myanmar, a group that fled to Thailand to escape the abuses committed by the Myanmarese military. At the age of six, his family accepted help to come to the United States, where they could seek out the kind of opportunity that the Thai refugee camps couldn’t provide. Augustin has lived in Milwaukee ever since.
His Wisconsin education began in the public schools, but before Augustin’s 4th grade year, his family applied for the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. It was important to his family to educate their son in a place with theological roots. Augustin was accepted. He said his parents were relieved that he could get into the faith-based school of their choice.
Augustin’s unique experience in the Cristo Rey Jesuit work-study program allowed him to work in the corporate world once every week and explore his interests in IT and computer software development. His high school experienced also taught him the great value of asking for help.
“If you’re shy to ask for help, or if you don’t wanna burden other people for help, then you’re just left alone with that burden,” he says. “Just ask for help when you need it.”
Had he not asked for help, Augustin might not be Stanford-bound today. Questbridge, an organization that empowers high-achieving low-income students, was accepting applications for their college match program, which would award select students with a match and full ride scholarship to America’s top colleges and universities. Augustin wanted to apply, but to ensure success, he asked his past English teachers and his college counselors at Cristo Rey Jesuit to surround him with support.
With the help of his editors and mentors at Cristo Rey Jesuit, Augustin wrote 30 essays for 11 schools in just two weeks for the Questbridge semi-finals. He says he couldn’t have done it without his team at Cristo Rey Jesuit, who were highly responsive with edits and feedback, even on weekends.
“That’s the good part about Cristo Rey: people are always willing to help you out,” Augustin says.
Questbridge matched Augustin with Stanford and he accepted his full ride to the California University last December. He’s considering a double-major in computer science and economics, with a minor in political science.
After college, Augustin dreams of teaching financial literacy to people of low income so they can become self-sufficient and control their own futures. He also wants to start a foundation or a charity to help his communities in Myanmar, Thailand, and the United States. “A lot of people need help and I want to be part of that change,” he says.
From a refugee in Thailand to a Stanford University scholar, Augustin has come a long way on a journey that wouldn’t have been possible without the help he’s graciously received throughout his life. Without the support from his family, his schoolteachers, or the Parental Choice Program, he may not be the Stanford-bound scholar we see today.
“There’s a phrase I like: ‘Success doesn’t come without the relationships that you make.’ Cause the more relationships that you have, the more people that will be willing to help you and people that you can connect with,” Augustin says. “That’s what makes us human, the relationships.”
Relationships at schools like Cristo Rey Jesuit make all the difference to a student in need of mentorship and care. Every student deserves that care, no matter their income, so they can reach their full potential. Because Augustin was cared for and invested in, he’s now equipped to invest in countless more members of his communities long after his chapter at Cristo Rey Jesuit has closed.
Augustin’s high school, Cristo Rey Jesuit, is a private school serving 424 students. The school was founded in 2015 and is one of 38 schools in the nationwide Cristo Rey Network. Cristo Rey Jesuit’s unique programming gives low-income students the chance to work for top Milwaukee businesses every week of their high school career while also preparing for college. 21% of their 2021 class received full-ride scholarships for college. Cristo Rey Jesuit participates in the Milwaukee and Wisconsin Parental Choice Programs and 97% of their students are enrolled through parental choice. Of their student body, 95% will be first-generation college students.