Five siblings gathered in Storm Lake this weekend to watch their youngest brother graduate from high school, decades after their parents emigrated from war-torn Sudan to the United States.
Cham Deng received his diploma Sunday from Storm Lake High School with a 3.4-grade point average, ranking him 28th in his class of 190 students, the Sioux City Journal reported. Storm Lake is a city in Buena Vista County with a population of roughly 10,600.
Deng also played basketball, averaging 17 points and nine rebounds per game during his senior season.
He intends to further his basketball career next season at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge. Deng plans to major in accounting.
Stacey Cole, superintendent of the Storm Lake Community School District, added that Deng is community-minded and has been a positive inspiration at the school.
“Cham is a student that can always be counted on to represent our schools and our community with poise and confidence,” Cole said. “He is community-minded and will make every community that he lives in a better place to be.”
Deng and his older siblings, whose ages range from 20 to 33, are the first generation of their Sudanese family born in the U.S. In the 1990s, their parents fled civil war in Sudan on the African continent.
Two of Deng’s siblings live in California. Two others reside in Maryland and one is in Virginia. The oldest, Chuol, works for search engine behemoth Google.
Nyjuok recently finished law school at Howard University. Pel is an enterpriser at online retail giant Amazon. Yach is a computer specialist, and Kuony is a linebacker for the University of California-Berkley football team.
Before Cham’s graduation, Yach receiving a high school degree from Storm Lake in 2014 was the last time all six siblings were in the city together. A graduation party was scheduled for Friday followed by a Saturday church service at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Storm Lake.
“My mom wanted to do a church service, because it has been a while since everybody was here,” Cham Deng said. “I am definitely proud. It is something you wouldn’t think, from a family of immigrants, to have that much success.”