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I know you’ve heard the saying, “It only takes one person to change the life of another”…Grace’s life, and her success, is due to the faith of another. She is a trailblazer for her family and for refugees who have come to the United States to live the American dream of obtaining a quality education to provide a justifiable living for those they financially support, while often seeking safety and a better life.

Grace is originally from Africa and is now living in Amarillo. Both her parents died, leaving her with a heavy responsibility to raise her eight siblings. Her family arrived here last August, and Grace did not waste any time questioning how to attend college as a long-term plan to provide a sustainable living for her household. She was willing to focus on maintaining her job at a local meatpacking plant to support her family’s needs, but she desired more for herself, her siblings, and their future.

With the help of a friend, she successfully enrolled at Amarillo College (AC). Grace fearlessly navigated a new culture and education system while also working a physically demanding job, at times 10-hour days, to assure her siblings were clothed and fed, all while aspiring for a more financially stable future.

Shortly after Grace began at AC, she was matched with Mary in The Refugee Language Project’s mentorship program to assist with gaining access to online classes and coursework. Mary witnessed Grace’s passion for education as she pursued an associate’s degree, also in the way she perpetually encouraged her siblings to work hard in school and to strive for a higher education. 

Once Grace became familiar with the community college system, it fueled a new desire in her to promote applying to college to fellow refugees. Mary assisted in coordinating Grace’s first visit with a group of recently arrived refugees at a local park (pictured below). Grace encouraged her peers to enroll, discussed program options, and what was required to attend. On that special day, Grace met Khalid (pictured in the hat), a 19-year-old young man with a story that runs parallel to hers. He is raising his two younger brothers after leaving their parents. With Grace’s guidance and motivation, Khalid is currently testing to enter a program at AC.

Thank goodness for Mary who was there to provide hope and help. People like Grace and Khalid are two of the many reasons why the Education Fund at the Amarillo Area Foundation was created. This fund is giving individuals hope for a brighter future for themselves, and their loved ones, through the support of programs like the Refugee Language Project. Click the following link to find out more about the Education Fund and how it is working to impact the needs in our community: Education – Amarillo Area Foundation.

If you’d like to give to the Education Fund, you can GIVE HERE.