Biiftu Duresso: Top High School Student Honors Parents’ Journey From Ethiopia

Biiftu Duresso (R) Wilson Magnet High School's valedictorian with her father Jamal Abdullahi, where he is Assistant Custodian. Jamal put his educational goals aside to focus on his children’s success. (Photo: D&C)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, June 28th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — In the following ABC News video Biiftu Duresso, a star high school student and this year’s valedictorian at Wilson Magnet High School in Rochester, New York, gives a moving tribute to her parents who immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia during the tumultuous 1980′s. Her father Jamal Abdullahi raised Biiftu and three other siblings working as an assistant custodian at his daughter’s high school, where he had been employed since 1986 while earning a college degree himself.

“My parents Jamal and Zubaida made their way to Rochester, New York from Ethiopia in the 80′s and 90′s,” Biiftu said in her speech. “They had the audacity to imagine something better for me and my siblings.”

Biiftu is headed to Columbia University’s Barnard College in the Fall. And she has a great role model in her father Jamal, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 2008, three decades after leaving Ethiopia where he was a teenage soldier.

“Since Biiftu and her siblings were born [Jamal] has made his own hard-earned education secondary to theirs,” notes The Democrat and Chronicle, a daily newspaper serving the greater Rochester area. “He wanted to be a teacher; instead, he relishes the chance to encourage Wilson students as a mentor and supporter. Jamal likes his work, humble as it is. He still remembers the date he began: June 10, 1986.”

“I tell them, look: I came this hard way through and came out here,” he told the newspaper. “It’s very hard. But it didn’t stop me. But if you have foundation, your results must be better than me. Must be better.”

Watch: Wilson Magnet High School Valedictorian Thanks Her Father (ABC News)

ABC US News | World News

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