Eighteen year-old Ashley Baccam who won the Iowa State Poetry out Loud title will represent the Hawkeye State in the national round in Washington D.C. on May 16. The high school senior, who is of Lao-Taidam descent, will compete with other students representing the other 49 states and the district of Columbia in the final round of Poetry Out Loud, which is sponsored by the National Endownment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.
Although experienced in school debate and poetry recitation, Ashley told VOA that she does not expect to win, adding she is just excited to be coming to Washington D.C., because she has never been to the nation's capital before.
A senior at Des Moines' East High School, Ashley maintains a 4.16 GPA, one of the 12 students who have a four points plus in a class of over 300. She graduates at the end of May and will go on to Grinnell University to study communications.
Ashley's parents, Thomas Theum and Nheune Baccam, will accompany their daughter to Washington D.C. for the contest. Thomas said his daughter loves to study and read, adding she has read over 200 books since 8th grade.
Listen to our Lao Diaspora for more details.