Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Why celebrate July 4th?

Jamal Abdullahi knows the answer. He came to the United States from Ethiopia in 1983 with no education and no job, but he was not afraid of hard work. In 2008, this father of three earned a bachelor's degree from the College of Brockport and had the audacity to expect even more for his kids, including his oldest daughter Biiftu. To help her appreciate her opportunities, he took her back to Ethiopia a few years ago. "My parents had told me stories about Africa, but I never really understood until I went there," she said. "(My relatives') eyes upon my life revealed my privilege."

Over the years, her Dad told her often, "All I can do is help you, but it is your future and you must help yourself." So she did. Last month, Biiftu graduated from Wilson Magnet High School in New York. She will attend Barnard College this fall. But there are two more reasons why they'll celebrate July 4th this year. Jamal works nights as a janitor at Wilson High, and Biiftu was class valedictorian. Where else could this happen, but in America?  Happy Independence Day!

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