Park Center Graduate Ziyne Abdo Shares Her Family’s Story
Park Center High School Graduates heard many words of inspiration at their commencement ceremony. But perhaps none was so heartfelt and deeply personal as a student speaker named Ziyne Abdo. She is the Park Center High School National Honor Society President and spoke about her parents growing up in the Oromia area of East Africa.
“My parents grew up with nothing,” Abdo told her classmates. “My mother spent her childhood wishing she could walk around in boots and heels. She dreamed of being a doctor, but because she was a girl she was forced to discontinue her education at age 12.”
Abdo remembers her family’s difficult journey
Abdo says her father lived through genocide, imprisonment, and torture.
“He knew his only way out was to escape,” says Abdo. “So he walked 400 miles to reach a refugee camp in Kenya. Along the way, he was caught, beaten, and left for dead.”
Abdo’s parents escaped, but did not find an easy life waiting for them in the U.S. She says they faced prejudice and racism. They worked multiple jobs to make ends meet, but also tried to create a normal childhood experience for their children.
“As we started to go to school, we barely saw them,” says Abdo. “My mom left for work before we woke up and my dad came home after we fell asleep. When they were home, they were exhausted. They ached and were in pain, but continued to support me in every way they could.”
Abdo says she is grateful for her parents and their sacrifice.
Park Center has students from 24 other birth countries and sovereign nations.