In just one year, Ayat Aldoori moved across the globe, learned English and graduated from Learn4Life at age 20. Her family escaped from war-torn Iraq and spent nine years in Egypt before immigrating to the U.S. Her education was erratic, and she missed three years of school because of the lengthy immigration process. She was grateful to find Learn4Life because she had aged out of public high school and would have had few options.

Ayat took ESL classes and completed all her school assignments by reading the questions, translating them to her native language, writing the answers and retranslating to English – all while spending several hours each day at the hospital with her ill mother.

“At Diego Valley, I learned how to depend on myself and be more responsible to make things happen. In the past, I attended school but had no idea of what I wanted to do in the future,” she explained. “Attending this school was a commitment, and I realized I needed to take things more seriously. This helped me in college, too.”

Her first teacher was Ms. Livingston, and Ayat found it hard to pronounce her name and asked if she could call her by her first name, Tammy. “But she refused. She wanted me to try my best and never choose the easy ways,” said Ayat. “She was so supportive and encouraging despite the few skills I had, and I am so thankful that she was my teacher because that lesson helped me after high school to never be scared to choose the harder ways.”

After graduation, Ayat earned three associate degrees from Grossmont College, and is completing a bachelor’s degree in human biology at the University of California, San Diego. She then plans to apply for dental school.

“My advice to current students to stay motivated even if things do not seem the best. Make it happen and never lose hope. We all are smart, so just use your ability in the right way and always value education because it is the most important way to become a better person,” she said.


Written By:
Ann Abajian
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