The doorbell rang on Saturday and I found Shukuru standing at the step. This young girl who could had looked into my eyes with shy confusion a short time ago whenever I would try and talk in English now looked at my confidently and spoke up. “I just received this letter.” I knew she had been desperately trying to get accepted into Onondaga Community College before the recent federal law went into effect, barring her from entering into school without a US high school diploma or G.E.D. The return address from the college cued me in that this was why she was here.
I opened the letter and read the words, “You checked that you do not have a high school diploma. We are no longer accepting students without a high school diploma…” My heart sank for her as I looked into the sadness in her eyes. For months she had showed up at the Assisi Center, studying so hard and diligently to pass the exam. Now she had passed but it was too late.
I looked into her eyes and said, “Shukuru, we are going to keep trying and give this our best! I don’t know if we can get you in, but don’t give up yet!”
Monday, the college prep program director (and Shukuru’s biggest advocate) began contacting the school, begging for a final chance for this young Congolese refugee. After some push and pull, Shukuru was officially accepted as a college student this week.
Last night, I entered the Assisi Center to check on the students studying there and was met by the typically shy and reserved Shukuru with a leaping hug and huge smile. “You got in Shukuru, you did it!”
“Thank you! Thank you!” she exclaimed. The busyness of Tuesday Evenings at Hopeprint suddenly stood still for a moment as I soaked up the meaning of this moment for my friend. She did it! She’s the last one in.