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Recent immigrant works hard to receive diploma
graduation 1
Turlock High graduate Adwena Aoraha stands with her family after receiving her high school diploma on Tuesday. - photo by Photo Contributed

All students must overcome obstacles to get to their graduation day. However, some students have a little more adversity than others. One such student is recent Turlock High graduate Adwena Aoraha. A recent immigrant from Jordan, Aoraha had to make up two years of high school work in one year to graduate this summer.

And that is exactly what she did.  

Aoraha was one of 21 students who graduated from Turlock High, Pitman High School, Freedom Education Center and Roselawn Continuation High School on Tuesday at the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting after completing all their credits over the summer.

“It feels amazing,” Aoraha said with a sigh of relief. “This is what I wanted. I wish for everyone to have this.”

At Tuesday’s graduation, Aoraha was one of the students who were able to wear their cap and gown as they walked down the Turlock High Performing Arts steps to the sound of graduation music and family members cheering in the audience.

There were about 30 family members, friends and teachers there to celebrate Aoraha’s success as she shook the trustees’ hands after receiving her diploma.

As she graduated, her heart was pounding and she was overwhelmed with happiness, but there were times on her journey that she didn’t think her goal was possible.

There were over a handful of times when Aoraha just wanted to give up but she kept going, knowing that finishing two years worth of credits in one year to graduate on time was worth it.

And the moment she received that diploma, she knew it was worth it.

Aoraha came to America as an 18-year old who needed to enter into her junior year in high school and could barely speak or read English.

Because she was already 18 years old, she had to enter high school as a senior but she was unable to take her junior year classes in Jordan due to difficult circumstances, so if she wanted to graduate on time, she would have to take two years worth of credits in her senior year.

To accomplish what seemed like an impossible goal, she went to school regularly, attended adult school, took independent study classes, spent her summers in the classroom and took on some tutoring to help her keep up.

“There were at least 10 times that she could have just given up but she didn’t,” said Pat Weisel, a friend of Aoraha. “It was such a roller coaster. There were times we didn’t think she was going to graduate. She had a huge mountain in front of her.”

Now that Aoraha has earned her high school diploma, she plans to attend Modesto Junior College in the fall. She hopes to be a flight attendant, but she isn’t too sure what her future has in store for her.

One thing she is sure of though — she will continue her education and it is all thanks to her wonderful teachers, family, friends and tutors who helped her achieve what she thought was impossible.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.