Clark High graduate’s journey includes fleeing war, overcoming health problems, learning third language

Syrian refugee defies the odds to graduate

SAN ANTONIO – Hajar Abdulraham has overcome more than just the end-of-year tests to reach the graduation stage at Clark High School. Her journey began in Syria when she was only a toddler.

“They bombed the hospitals so we couldn’t stay in Syria. We lived in a school in Syria for two years. There was a lot of people that lived there. Every family had, like, a classroom,” Abdulraham said, remembering her life.

She said there was little to no food when she was in Syria.

“I remember running with my little sister to go get water from the river and came back and drank it, but it was very scary,” Abdulraham said.

Her family fled to Turkey to seek life-saving medical help for her and her little sister, as they both have beta thalassemia, a blood disorder.

“My mom left her family, left everyone to save us — me and my little sister,” Abdulraham said.

Her sister got the surgery she needed, but Abdulraham still needed one. She applied to become a U.S. refugee and was granted a visa when she turned 11.

Abdulrahman said with the help of many teachers, she was able to keep up with school, and the doctors and nurses continued to provide her with the treatment she needed.

Pagie Vetter, an English ESL teacher for Abdulraham and her sister, said the entire family persevered.

“She’s got a heart of gold. So, again, that’s the type of student that you just wish you could copy, paste and have a whole classroom full of,” Vetter said.

Abdulraham wanted a platform to thank all the teachers, doctors, and nurses who have been a part of her journey.

“It was our honor, and it was our joy to teach Hajar,” Vetter said.

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About the Authors

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

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