By Eric Erickson
The St. Paul Area Athena Awards honor one female high school senior from each East Metro high school.
This year’s recipient from Como Park is Pah Meh, who played soccer, volleyball, badminton, softball, and wrestled while achieving a 3.6 grade point average.
Beyond those credentials, Pah Meh earned 12 credits from St. Paul College through Como’s Academy of Finance Business Certification program. She will transfer those credits to Metro State University with plans to major in business.
Thirteen years ago, Pah Meh and her family migrated from a refugee camp in Thailand to St. Paul. She did not know any English upon arrival. Her home language of Karenni is still spoken at home, so you can add becoming bilingual as another noteworthy accomplishment.
“It took me a while. I didn’t get the hang of English until I got to middle school,” Pah Meh said. “Reading, writing, and everything was just hard for me, but I kept working at it.”
By the time Pah Meh reached Como as a freshman, she had years of experience in overcoming challenges. As a result, trying a new sport was relatively easy.
And she kept trying new things—having fun and contributing to all her respective teams.
She started freshman year as a soccer player and proved to be a strong defender, but she also had an interest in volleyball. Both are fall sports and eventually a choice had to be made.
While most high school athletes would choose a starting role on a varsity team over a junior varsity (JV) position, Pah Meh was not motivated by perceived status. She opted to play JV volleyball as a senior.
During the winter of her junior year, Pah Meh tried wrestling. She learned a lot and liked the physical challenge.
She was a two-time letter winner on Como’s badminton team, which plays in the spring, but decided to try softball for her final sports experience as a senior. She’s currently playing in the outfield for the Cougars’ varsity team.
“I’ve had fun playing lots of sports,” Pah Meh said. “Sports motivated me and kept me active and made me a better student. They’ve helped me communicate better and have more friends. It’s made me more confident. “When I make a mistake, I learn from it. And keep going.”
Eric Erickson is a social studies teacher at Como Park High School and a longtime coach of school and youth sports in St. Paul.