Lisa Amani: The congolese refugee high school graduate who values education after fleeing unrest in Africa

by Wesleigh Ogle | KATU

It’s hard to believe Lisa Amani, a Congolese refugee, is only a high school senior. The Roosevelt High School student has been through so much in 18 years to reach her 2020 graduation.

“I know I worked hard and here’s my success, you know? And even though this is holding me back, it’s not going to stop me from achieving more things,” she said.

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Amani was born and raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She and her family fled to Kenya as refugees.

“We lived under great insecurity. We couldn’t just be ourselves,” she said. “I remember my mom telling us, ‘When you walk in the street, don’t look in the cars. Don’t say hi to strangers. Don’t do this and that.’ So, we lived in fear for seven years.”

When Amani was 14, they found asylum in the United States.

“America is heaven,” she said. “America – that’s like the savior.”

In the U.S., Amani continued to focus on school, just as she always has.

“I see education as a key that you can use to unlock other doors,” she said. “The first thing on my list, after family, is education.”

She’s had a big year. Amani earned a 3.9 GPA and $30,000 in scholarships, including the Dreams Scholarship from Abby’s Closet.

“I jumped! I jumped! I started screaming! I’m like, ‘oh my god!'” she said, describing the moment she heard the news about the scholarship.

Abby Egland from Abby’s closet was blown away by Amani’s journey and successes.

“Knowing that she came to America and has taken every opportunity she can and just taken it and blown it out of the water and we know that she’s going to be doing amazing things and helping other young women,” Egland said.

Amani wants to help other Africans who are seeking asylum in the U.S. She plans to get a degree in psychology from the University of Oregon.

Unfortunately, Amani’s end-of-the-year celebration will be more subdued than she’d hoped because of the coronavirus pandemic. But she isn’t letting that get her down.

“My success is my success. I shouldn’t need a crowd to clap for me to feel like I’m successful,” she said.

Amani knows even bigger things are ahead.

Read more from source KATU