Here are some of the outstanding graduates of our Class of 2015.
Pascaline Uwase. Just two years ago, in March 2013, Pascaline Uwase enrolled at Hope High School. She had moved to Providence from Uganda, where she had lived since 2009. Prior to that, Pascaline attended school in Rwanda.
When she moved to Uganda, Pascaline did not know the English language or Luganda, which were the two main languages spoken there. Due to the language barrier, she received low scores on her academic work and felt like she was starting her education all over again. Before long, though, Pascaline began to seek extra help and worked very hard, improving every semester until she ranked number two in her class. She was admitted to the Winston Standard Secondary School, which she attended until arriving the United States.
When she first heard she was coming to the United States, Pasaline had mixed feelings. She was happy to meet her grandmother for the first time, but was also nervous about integrating into a completely different culture. When she arrived as a sophomore, Pascaline’s English was limited and she struggled to make friends. In her junior year, she joined the soccer team and began to establish friendships. She worked extremely hard in all of her classes and her English improved rapidly.
Now in her senior year, Pascaline’s work ethic has paid off. She has achieved a 4.0 grade point average is the salutatorian for the Class of 2015.
Pascaline continues to work hard every day in both school and at her part-time job at Au Bon Pain bakery. She has also participated in many extracurricular activities such as the College MAP program, Designing a Better Future, and has volunteered for St. Michael’s Parish. Despite her busy schedule, Pascaline managed to stay after school in the Future Forward Program to work on her scholarship applications. Her guidance counselor said that when Pascaline was given an opportunity, she followed through. Again, her hard work has paid off as she is receiving many scholarships, including the Red Sox Scholarship, the College MAP Scholarship, and the Louis B. Mendelsohn Scholarship through Hope Dollars for Scholars.
She is described by her guidance counselor as a wonderful human being “who exudes the utmost appreciation and humble attitude.” She plans to attend the University of Rhode Island to study engineering with a focus on biomedical engineering.
Fatima Dewan’s greatest role model is her father, who has influenced her behavior, her beliefs and her life by teaching her the right lessons. “He is the first person from whom I learned that character is the crown of a person,” she said. “In every second of my life, I try to cultivate good manners, honesty and truthfulness. Who I am today is because of him.”
When Fatima first arrived in the United States from Bangladesh, it was hard to fit into a new culture. After her first day of school in America, Fatima went home and decided she wanted to quit school and return to her native country. She felt she could never assimilate in America. But her father persuaded her to keep trying and not give up and advised her that she had to sacrifice in order to achieve success. So, to reach a brighter future, Fatima began working harder. Now she is enjoying her school and is working hard to make her father proud.
Her mother passed away when she was only three or four years old, but Fatima had an older sister, who was her best friend. Her sister stayed behind in Bangladesh when Fatima came to America, making her adjustment harder.
Fortunately, Fatima’s father played both roles and sacrificed much for her happiness. Seeing her go to college will fill him with much joy and will help Fatima achieve her goals.
“From my childhood, I am confident in my morality, my sense of right or wrong. A person can’t be successful without influential figures in their life,” said Fatima. “I am lucky that my father influenced me. He is the first person who held my hand when I started walking. He made sure I never fell, and has since been by my side, helping me to overcome all obstacles with school work. His influence has shaped my ways and made me believe in myself.”
Fatima will pursue her education and her goals at the University of Rhode Island.
Shiva Karki was born in a Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal. As he grew up there, he dreamed about achieving his dreams, but never believed it was possible. School was difficult; teachers would hit students for coming in late or forgetting a pen or pencil. There was not enough material, like lab equipment, to learn.
Shiva’s father disappeared when he went to get wood from the mountain to cook food at home. Shiva and his brother had to depend on each other. They did not have enough money for healthy meals, but his brother was able to get a job. He had to live in a different district while Shiva was left alone. He knew he would have to leave the camp to have a better future.
He had learned about the United States from aunts and uncles who told him about their experiences. Through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration, Shiva and his brother came to the United States after a three-year process.
Like many teenagers immigrating to the United States, Shiva’s experience was very challenging. Separation from his relatives and friends was hard. On the first day of school at Hope High School, Shiva met a friend who also came from Nepal. He helped him to learn how to take the bus to their new school “that looked like the biggest college in the country,” he said. Shiva thought he would get lost inside Hope High School. He was afraid the teachers would be like the ones in Nepal. But when he was introduced to all his teachers and fellow students, they were so nice to him that he felt very happy. Another new friend helped him to learn his way around the school building. Shiva felt safe and realized he had the freedom to speak his opinion and share his feelings.
He feels fortunate to have educational opportunities and can now dream about his future and how he can make his family proud. Shiva will attend Rhode Island College in the fall.
A-Venture Academy is an alternate placement program for middle and high school students who struggle to meet with success in a traditional school environment. A-Venture Academy provides a personalized approach to learning, empowering students to overcome significant challenges by the explicit teaching of pro-social behaviors, the cultivation of restorative practices and the use of multiple pathways to earn academic credits.
Between school transfers and shifting classes, Damien Andrews lost his motivation, and late nights of video games seemed more important to him than his education. Teachers would struggle to keep him awake, his work declined, and he never participated in class.
When calls were made to his home, Damien’s mother was always there to support him. He made gains, but he would fall back again. Feeling like he was barely making it, Damien opened up to his teachers. They told him that they had never given up on him and believed in his abilities.
Within a short time, Damien began a turnaround. He was named student of the month and excelled in his classes, particularly English Language Arts. Damien was able to see in himself the potential and ability that others saw all along. With that new belief, he felt he could move forward with his true dreams. Damien will graduate with his class from his home school, Hope High School, and has now been accepted into the United States Navy.