Marshalltown High School Principal Aiddy Phomvisay has been named a 2014 Passport to Prosperity award winner by the Iowa International Center.
These awards honor immigrants and refugees in the state who make Iowa a better place to live through their contributions.
Phomvisay is originally from Laos and his family moved to Alta, Iowa as refugees when he was young. He is entering his fourth year as MHS principal.
"It was a great surprise," Phomvisay said of this International Center award.
The Iowa International Center has a mission to build cultural respect at home and around the world.
"It's an honor to be recognized by such an outstanding organization," Phomvisay said. "I support the mission of the Iowa International Center."
He said the community of Alta was welcoming to refugees which allowed him to grow and to get to the point where he is at today.
Judy Conlin, executive director of the Iowa International Center, said they received numerous letters of support for Phomvisay's nomination.
"He's an extremely strong leader," Conlin said. "What a model for the state and for young people."
Other 2014 Passport to Prosperity winners are Tej Dhawan, from India, Li Zhao Mandelbaum, from China, and Claudia Schabel, from Brazil.
The honorees will be recognized at the International Center's Passport to Prosperity awards celebration Sept. 27 at Drake University.
Aside from telling his story, Phomvisay is excited to be able to talk about Marshalltown and how it has welcomed refugees and immigrants.
"I appreciate the opportunity to share our Marshalltown story and what we are doing for our newcomers," Phomvisay said.
Phomvisay said he was nominated for this award by some former colleagues in Ames, where he taught previously in his career.
Phomvisay was also recently named the Secondary Principal of the Year by the School Administrators of Iowa.