BOISE - Congrats are in order for 75 students from all around Ada County. Wednesday night, they received plaques from the mayors of several cities, including Boise and Meridian, for rising above hardships.
Zahraa Alomar, a 9th-grader at South Junior High, is a shining example of that.
"I was only like 4 or 5 when we moved to Syria and we came here as refugees, so I started here as a first-grader," Zahraa said.
For the last two years, Zahraa has maintained a 4.0 GPA, which is no easy feat. She says it's her childhood in the Middle East that motivates her.
"There's people that come here and think that oh America we're free now, we can live our life," said Zahraa. "But I take advantage of education and I think that's what you should do. I have this opportunity and I need to use it."
Zahraa says she has always had a hunger for knowledge, even as a toddler in war-torn countries.
"I would go with my mom sometimes because she was a teacher and my sisters would go to school," said Zahraa. "Sometimes they would teach me how to do addition, subtraction before I go to school."
While Zahraa picked things up pretty quickly, moving to the United States brought quite a few hurdles.
"It was hard to adapt to like the society here and how different they are and I needed to learn the language really fast," Zahraa said.
She was 6 years old when she moved the U.S. and fluent in Arabic. For the next four years she was in English language learner classes.
"Then I started learning more English, practicing, talking with people," said Zahraa.
Now, she's in accelerated English classes. She says her hard work is all for her parents.
"They sacrificed everything," said Zahraa. "They left their jobs and they came here to get us a good education and to be safe, so I want to use the education and be the best I can."
Winning this award is just the beginning.
"I felt really happy because my parents are going to be proud of me because I got something like that," Zahraa said. "I need to show them that I did really good coming here."
Although Zahraa is only a 9th-grader, she already has her eyes set on the future. She's looking forward to taking AP classes next year at Borah High School. She also says she wants to go to Stanford University and eventually become a heart or brain surgeon.
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