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April 19, 2018 10:00 PM

Washington Student Chases American Dream

Sioux Falls

A debate star at Washington High School in Sioux Falls has earned a full ride to Duke University.

What makes this story unique is the fact that English is Ruhama Tereda's second language. She just never let anything stand in her way of living her American dream. 

With the AP English test a month away, Washington High School students aren't wasting any time. 

In a class full of Washington's best and brightest, it's hard to say any student is more hardworking than the other.

Ruhama Tereda certainly doesn't think she's at the top of the list. 

"A lot of stuff comes down to luck, right?" Ruhama Tereda said. 

She just considers herself lucky. 

"My family got the opportunity to come to America, literally out of a diversity lottery," Tereda said. 

At five years old, Ruhama and her parents moved to Sioux Falls from Ethiopia. 

"One of our reasons for coming to the United States is for our children's future. We know that if they work hard, they can achieve anything they want," Ayele Wolda said. 

Ruhama works hard. She's is in DECA, debate, oral interp, theatre, student council, and is the Girl's State Governor for South Dakota. 

"As a parent, she's like the best kid you could ever imagine," Wolda said.

When it came time to apply for college, Ruhama kept one application a secret. 

"I didn't even expect to get in," Ruhama said. 

"Talking to her in her college process, Duke wasn't even an option," Washington High School Counselor Travis Seiber said. 

Her counselor knows--Ruhama should have known better than to doubt herself. 

"Actually, it was on my birthday that I got the email, and it was like, accept or deny, and I was like, ACCEPT," Ruhama said. 

Not only did Ruhama get accepted to Duke--

"When I got the email I thought it was a scam. I was like, 'don't play me like that! That's not funny!'"

She's got a full ride scholarship. 

"We believe that if you work hard, you will be rewarded," Ayele Wolda said. 

"They've kind of just instilled in me, that if I want to do something great, if I want to make an impact on this world, it boils down to myself," Ruhama said. 

Her parents love and support Ruhama every step of the way, but they can't offer the same advice or experience as other parents.

"We know how important education is. We just don't know how to achieve that goal in the United States," Ayele Wolda said. 

Achieving that goal--looks different for Ruhama. 

"It was hard, because I served as a translator of sorts for my parents, which isn't the typical role of a daughter, but it instilled a higher sense of responsibility in me," Ruhama said. 

Ruhama's opportunity for an education has everything to do with her hard work. 

Luck...has nothing to do with it. 

Ruhama's high school counselor jokes--the hardest part about her starting at Duke this fall could be learning basketball. 

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