Adulfatah still remembers his first day inside of an American classroom—"It was an ESL class," he said. "None of us could understand each other. I didn't know any English." To better his English, he enrolled in the IRC's after-school tutoring program for refugee youth. Just four years later, Abdulfatah completed his first year at a local college, thanks to the IRC's Youth Scholarship.
Like many of our scholarship recipients, he worked diligently alongside IRC staff to not only excel in his studies but also to apply to colleges and universities. "The best part was visiting the universities," he said. "We learned about college credits and grades." Even the most dedicated students like Abdulfatah face huge financial hurdles that can prevent them from pursuing the higher education goals they dream of: the cost of college itself – tuition, books, transportation, food—and the competing need to earn money to help support their often struggling parents and siblings.
Despite the barriers, Abdulfatah is dedicated to getting a degree from a four year university in San Diego and is on track to do so as an engineering student at City College.
"When I was in Ethiopia, I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school. I couldn't imagine a future for myself. Then we came here. My dad saw that children here have a future. He tried to give us the opportunities he never had. Now, I’m doing my best to learn and help my family. And then, go back to my country and help if I can."
The IRC is dedicated to supporting refugee youth as they pursue higher education from their first English class to academic help in their first year of college. You can learn more about our Refugee Youth Scholarship here.