Immigrant student thrives thanks to teachers

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A journey that started as a frightening experience for Thomas Jefferson High School senior Daniel Akwei has become the opportunity of a lifetime, thanks to caring teachers who reached out when he needed them most. With more than $20,000 in scholarship awards, the immigrant student turned future financial analyst will step onto the University of North Texas at Dallas campus as a freshman this fall.

“My first day as a student in America was very hard. I cried the whole time. It was very challenging. And my teachers felt sorry for me,” recounts Akwei as he flashed back to the day he started classes at T. C. Marsh Middle School.

Akwei and his family migrated from Ghana to Dallas in 2012. Challenged to master English as his third language, Akwei was pressed to overcome the language barrier. And his accent didn’t make it easy to fit in with his fellow classmates.

“The biggest challenge I had to face as a student was my English. I knew I had to keep reading to be able to comprehend everything. The teacher who helped me the most was Mr. Williams Collins,” said Akwei, referring to his seventh grade English teacher whose time and patience helped him believe he could overcome the language hurdle.

Thankfully, the support didn’t stop there. Upon entering high school, Akwei connected with other supportive teachers at Thomas Jefferson – Caroline Hitt, Robert Delgado, Rocio Diaz and Chanel Brown, to be exact. Along with counselor Coleman Price, they each took a special interest in the college hopeful, helping him to improve his English and self-confidence.

Thanks to help mastering the English language, caring teachers who encouraged him to apply for scholarship opportunities, and patient advisors helping him navigate the college application process, Akwei blazed through high school with the backing of an amazing team.

Kpakpo Akwei, Daniel’s father, praised the district for reaching out to his son.

“The teachers were so good and they were very supportive. I received text messages if he did not attend class or attended late. They were very good in every way that I could’ve imagined,” he said. “I appreciate their hard work and everything they’ve done for Daniel. Dallas ISD is a great institution. It’s been helping people a lot even before I came here. So, I recommend everybody to send their child to Dallas ISD.”

Akwei’s hard work coupled with the support he received from his teachers proved to be a winning combination. He is one of seven Dallas ISD seniors on the road to success with a Deloitte/NTPGA Fairway to Success scholarship in the amount of $20,000, giving Akwei another reason to cry, except this time they’re tears of joy.

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