DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - The adjustment from high school to college can be difficult, but for one former DECA student who has recently graduated from University of Dayton, it also means leaving your homeland, crossing cultures and learning a new way of life.
Hadil Issa received her degree from the University of Dayton's School of Engineering earlier this month. Hadil could not speak English when, as a child, she came to the United States from Palestine.
Her family settled in the Miami Valley. She eventually enrolled in the Dayton Early College Academy, a charter school that partners with the University of Dayton.
"Then I went to DECA and then I had a teacher, so awesome many teachers so awesome all are awesome," said Issa.
Her background includes living in conflict ridden Palestine before moving to this country with her eight siblings as a practicing Muslim.
"Sometimes I think what would have happened if I had stayed in Palestine, would have been married with kids done and over with."
During Hadil's freshman year, there were fewer than 20 Muslims on UD's campus. Now there are 200.
That growing number she attributes to UD's embrace. That warmth has encouraged her to pursue a master's degree in engineering which she will finish next year.
"That's my dream, that's what i want to do."
DECA's focus is to fully prepare urban students for college.
Most DECA grads are the first in their families to graduate from college and some are the first high school graduates.
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