Yosimar Vargas

Who would think that a dirty-faced 8-year-old child roaming the streets selling bleach would earn the Durham Tech Academic Excellence Award!?  At age 8, I was already working in my hometown of Tulua, Colombia, while going to school in the afternoon. At 16 years old, I lost my father due to the internal conflict in the country. Honestly, I do not know how I kept going with school, but two years later I graduated from high school. My goal was always to earn a college degree. I started college in Colombia, but had to move to Costa Rica for safety reasons.

It was hard to get into a public university in Costa Rica but eventually, I was able to enroll in a private university even though I knew I could not graduate without papers. In 2012, the United States granted my brother and me refugee status in 2012. I began my life in the United States working as a dishwasher due to language barriers, and taking ESL classes. Now, I am the catering manager and I am halfway through the Business Administration program. I have come a long way and achieved all of this with perseverance and hard work.