International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Refugee Teen is Valedictorian

I have learned through my hardships and life experiences, that it is important to take advantage of opportunities that are available because not everyone in the world gets the same opportunities. --Elizabeth Okello

ElizabethElizabeth grew up in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.   Her dad is a refugee from Uganda and her mom is a refugee from Sudan. She is the oldest of seven children and the first in her family to finish high school.  She arrived in San Diego as a teen in the 10th grade.  

On Elizabeth’s first day of school at Crawford High, her teacher recommended that she attend the IRC Students Plus program for tutoring. Elizabeth is thankful for that teacher’s wise advice. 

Elizabeth proceeded to stay after school every day for the next three years, receiving English, academic, and moral support from IRC staff and volunteers. “For the past three years that I have been a part of the program, the IRC has been family to me,” said Elizabeth.   Her hard work and determination paid off; Elizabeth recently graduated as the valedictorian of her school. The IRC congratulates Elizabeth on her achievement!

Next year, she will attend UC Berkeley and she hopes to become a pediatrician.

Elizabeth and two other refugee students received an IRC Scholarship award of $500. If you would like to contribute to the IRC Scholarship Fund or learn more about IRC’s Youth Programs, contact Carolyn at or 619 641-7510 x 256.

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