Twen­ty years ago, Ron Her and 14 oth­er Hmong teens took a class to pre­pare for their move from a Thai ref­u­gee camp to America. Then they scat­tered across the Unit­ed States.

Some quick­ly re­al­ized the class — some Eng­lish gram­mar, some prac­ti­cal skills such as using a mod­ern shower — had of­fered the most bas­ic prep­a­ra­tion. But when Her, a Minneapolis phy­si­cian, and oth­ers set out to plan a re­un­ion this year, they found the form­er class­mates had done re­al­ly well for them­selves.

“We’ve all tried to pur­sue the American dream as much as we could,” Her said.

Her’s class at the Phanat Nikhom camp might have been primed for suc­cess: All camp young­sters took a test to gauge their Eng­lish skills, and the 15 were the high­est scor­ers.

“We bond­ed re­al­ly quick­ly,” said Yang Xiong, an­oth­er Minnesota-based gradu­ate.

But the teens also shared a re­solve to beat ex­pec­ta­tions. Her start­ed as a ninth-grad­er in Wis­con­sin. His read­ing skills were at the third-grade level, and he had gap­ing ac­a­dem­ic gaps. He re­mem­bers sleep­ing three or four hours a night on av­er­age: “I de­vot­ed my whole life to study­ing.”

By his seni­or year, Her was tak­ing only col­lege-cred­it class­es. At Ed­i­son High School in Minneapolis, Yang had a sim­i­lar tra­jec­to­ry. He went on to earn a bach­elor’s in three years, serve in the Army National Guard and earn a doc­tor­ate from the University of Minnesota. He runs his own phar­ma­cy in Minneapolis.

The group is re­unit­ing this sum­mer in Las Vegas. As the class­mates start­ed re­con­nect­ing this year, they found each had suc­ceeded in his own way: from car­pen­ter to com­puter whiz, from com­muni­ty lead­ers who of­fi­ci­ate at tra­di­tion­al wed­dings to some who yearn to re­connect with Hmong roots. Her’s broth­er, Peter, is a doc­tor­al can­di­date ac­tive in state pol­i­tics.

“We have a very di­verse group,” Yang said.