Like Father, Like Daughter: A family celebrates two graduations this summer

Asheber, Rozina, and Leah at a graduation celebration.

Summertime is a momentous occasion for graduates of all ages, but families aren’t usually experiencing multi-generational graduations.

Rozina’s family recently celebrated the dual graduation of Rozina and her father, Asheber, at a party surrounded by family and friends. Rozina N. graduated from Washington-Lee High School in dark blue robes and a mortarboard sporting gold and blue tassels. She graduated just a month after Asheber finished attending the Temple University School of Pharmacy in Philadelphia. For four years, he commuted to his Arlington home on weekends and seasonal breaks for four years, giving up valuable family time.

“I’m doing this for you guys, as a role model and to inspire you,” her father told Rozina and her younger sister, Leah. Everyone is happy to have him back in Arlington permanently while he continues to study for his pharmaceutical exams.

Rozina lives at Arlington Mill Residences with her step-mother and younger sister. She lived in Ethiopia until she moved to Arlington for 10th grade. Equipped with just limited, classroom English, she worked hard to learn from her sister and English-speaking media. The effort and discomfort paid off: she will start college at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in just a few weeks.

Since Rozina graduated high school last month, she’s kept busy with her part-time job at Giant and seeing friends and family as much as possible. She also participated in the onsite Summer Bridge program at Radford University, a week-long, residential program for young women interested in science.

Rozina gets a free laptop for her household
to use for participating in computer skills
classes at Arlington Mill.

Though the move to college is daunting, she is excited to live on campus and have a friend from high school as a roommate. Rozina plans on majoring in biology focused on the pre-med track. She imagines she’ll be a pulmonologist, having lost her mother to a lung illness before leaving Ethiopia, but anything is possible.

“When I visited a hospital on a school field trip, I saw an open-heart surgery and I could not stop looking. I was amazed by the doctor, and even more impressed by her dedication and steady hands. I could not stop looking at her hands.”

While her medical aspirations could take her anywhere, Rozina is certain she will join the school’s dance club to learn and make friends.  “I am so nervous to make friends, but I really want to get to know people and learn dancing,” she said.

Her time at APAH has clearly made a positive impression. She asked hopefully, “is there APAH in Richmond? I would love to live in an affordable apartment after my freshman year.”

Unfortunately APAH has not expanded into Richmond, which means APAH staff and neighbors will miss Rozina’s smiling face and helpful spirit.