NEDPC Conference Outstanding Learner award winner shares her story
Washington, D.C. – Academy of Hope student wins Outstanding Learner award at the NEDPC Conference. Read the poignant story of her journey from Sierra Leone.
My name is Amy Boima Heine Challe, an immigrant from Freetown, Sierra Leone. As a child, I found out in my early years that education is key to success because I learned that “Knowledge is power” and can change your situation instantly.
Therefore, I gave education top priority. I worked hard through elementary school until my dreams were shattered in high school when I dropped out of school at a tender age due to neglect and lack of care by both parents.
Despite, dropping out of school at age 12, I never stopped trying to pursue my dreams. I studied for the Teachers and Higher teachers certificate courses which helped teach in various elementary schools in Freetown. I was still motivated to further my education but life was very difficult for me after the 13-year long war in which I was a victim of torture and I had to look for higher paying jobs. I was later employed by the United States Embassy in Freetown with my experience as a teacher and a project officer.
While working, I was enrolled in the University to pursue my bachelor’s degree but couldn’t complete it as I was sent to Iraq on an assignment. In 2010, while in the U.S for pre deployment training to Iraq, I suffered a severe stroke which affected my left side, so I couldn’t get to Iraq.
When I went back to Sierra Leone, I was neglected the second time by relatives. Both parents were killed in the war. My daughter, however, stayed close to me and helped all through this time. Despite being partially paralyzed at that time deep down me it was my desire to obtain my high school diploma.
I then returned to U.S in August 2011 without my daughter and started working on my immigration status. Immediately after I was granted asylum, I enrolled at Academy of Hope to pursue my GED disregarding my age and all obstacles. Later I was introduced to the National External Diploma Program and was able to pass all preliminary tests and was accepted for the program. I was dedicated to my course and I completed the program within 8 months of starting it. Now I can boast that I am a high school graduate getting ready to enter university to pursue my Associates degree and continue on to my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work because I have the passion to help people who are struggling like I struggled in the past.
Recently, in my college prep class, I learned that we have three voices in our mind. THE INNER critic which is your self-talk that condemns you and that was the voice the encouraged me to commit suicide as life was unfair. Then THE INNER DEFENDER which blames other people. That was the voice that blamed my parents and relatives for neglecting me. Finally, there is the INNER GUIDE which guides you towards the right path and that was the voice that motivated me to return to United States since I already I have a visa to travel, to work on my status and return to school.
I would not have achieved this milestone without the help of dedicated people like, Ms. Annette, Audrey. Also Brian Mclauchlin and Rachel who are not present here today. To you all I say Thank you.
Therefore, always pursuing my dream, with God as my helper, I never let anything stop me, I take personal responsibility to achieve my dreams in life so I encourage all students present here today that “NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU OR WHATEVER YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES. NEVER NEVER GIVE UP. PERSEVERE TO THE END” and you will be amazed with the outcomes.