VIDEO: How living in a Thailand refugee camp helped this graduate find her path
Redar Moo has overcome countless obstacles on her journey to a degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology.
Growing up in a refugee camp in Thailand, Redar Moo prayed every day that it would be her family’s last night in the camp.
Eleven years later, her prayer was answered, but the experience had already shaped her worldview. Watching her father sacrifice sleep and safety to serve as a security guard at the camp inspired Moo to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. With diploma in hand, the Reisher Scholar and first-generation student is ready to take the leap to a career in law enforcement.
“Back in the camp, my dad was a security guard, and the community was very comfortable with him,” Moo said. “Every time they saw him, they’d laugh and make conversation. So I feel like I want to be like him. I want my community to feel safe when they see me.”
When Moo and her family moved to Colorado, she didn’t understand a word of English, she said. On top of struggling with the language, she was bullied in middle school and throughout her life not just because of her English but for personal reasons, too. She began to struggle with her body image, but her family helped her through the most difficult times.
“I remember my first year in sixth grade. I told my mom, ‘I don’t want to go to school anymore,’” Moo said. “And I remember my mom told me, ‘Today is hard for you, but tomorrow it will get easier.’ And I kept that centered throughout my education.”
At MSU Denver, Moo worked full-time as a neighborhood community officer with the Auraria Campus Police Department and a student advocate with the Denver Scholarship Foundation throughout her studies. She also volunteered with the Denver Police Department, her church and the Ambassador Foundation, where she helped mentor incoming first-year college students.
As someone who has faced discrimination, she has learned to treat everyone with respect, no matter their skin color, gender or social class. Her experiences have led her full circle back to a place of service and self-sacrifice.
“As a kid, I questioned why (my dad) chose the community over his family, but now I understand why serving is so important to him,” Moo said. “Serving the people offered him happiness and comfort knowing that the community felt safe when he was around. I not only want my community to feel safe when they see me in uniform, but I also want to build a relationship of trust when I am serving.”