Abdel keeps overcoming long odds. When he was an 11-year-old in middle school in Côte d’Ivoire, the civil war caused him to miss most of the school year. Back in school for its last two months, he had to study all the material he had missed from eight classes. He passed – with the second highest grade in the school. That pattern has continued in Abdel’s three years in this country. At his high school, he is part of the championship soccer team, and ranks second in a class of 110. One of his high school counselors wrote that Abdel’s “science teacher had to create a separate curriculum for Abdel because he was so advanced in his thinking and always went above and beyond in his studies.” He also took two computer courses at a nearby college, as well as French classes so that he could take the Advanced Placement French exam, earning A’s in each case. Abdel lives with his father, but his mother has remained in Côte d’Ivoire. FaceTime and WhatsApp help him keep connected, he says. “I taught my mom how to use all these apps before leaving. When I really missed her, she was able to walk me through how to cook her famous chicken recipe over FaceTime.” He hopes for a career in technology. “I’m in love with math,” he says, and wants to study data science in college.

Abdel’s choice as the Teacher Who Made the Difference in his life is Suzannah Taylor, his guidance counselor and advisor. Her advice, he said, guided him on his path to graduation. 

Many thanks to Perry Pazer for sponsoring Abdel through his college journey.