SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A Lincoln High School student has already finished writing the speech she’ll deliver before her classmates during graduation later this month. That’s quite an academic achievement considering just a few years ago, she didn’t know a word of English.
Ifrah Hashi spent most of her childhood in her civil war-torn homeland of Somalia. She was 12 years old before she ever set foot inside a classroom when she attended Axtell Park Middle School as a 7th grader. Now she’s the first English learner from Lincoln High School to ever become a member of the National Honor Society.
Getting an education was never a priority for Ifrah Hashi growing up in Somalia. Just staying alive was hard enough.
“I lost my uncles, died in front of me, and even my friends’ families, a lot of people that I lost was the hardest thing to forget about,” Hashi said.
Ifrah moved to Sioux Falls with her family to escape the violence in her homeland. But attending school here was completely foreign to her.
“There’s times that I would come back home crying and refused to go to school the next day because I was feeling dumb, I was far behind, I couldn’t speak a phrase of English,” Hashi said.
Ifrah credits her teachers with encouraging her to persevere in her studies. But Ifrah herself, possesses a determination to succeed through hard work during and after school.
“She’s such a good role model, especially for the younger students to see, well, if Ifrah can do it, I know Ifrah, I’m kind of like Ifrah, maybe I can do it, too,” Lincoln English Learner Dept. Chair Ashley Griese said.
Ifrah’s commencement address will focus on encouraging other students to do their best in spite of hardships that can seem impossible to overcome.
“It gives me hope and dreams that drives me to where I’m at today,” Hashi said.
After graduating from Lincoln, Ifrah will attend the University of South Dakota to study nursing.