Coming to America: Amiryah’s Story

College classroom with mature female teacher and young multi ethnic students

If you have ever moved cross country in the United States, especially from someplace like Alabama to New Jersey, you know it can be a challenge. The kids in school sound “funny” and you just struggle to try and find a friend. If you are lucky and patient, you might be successful.

Now imagine if you are coming from a different country and English is a second language to you. It can be daunting even on the best days! We can all remember our middle school days, when even our friends were un-kind. They teased and taunted us. We felt awful and wanted to run. Run back home where things were comfortable and safe from this foreign world.
This is Amiryah’s story. At age 12, when her parents immigrated to America, she came along because that is what children do, even though she secretly did not want to move to this very foreign land. She struggled to fit in to the culture and her middle school. Life in America for the first couple of years was a challenge for Amiryah. By the time she arrived in high school, she had finally made few friends and desired to belong and connect with them somehow, some way.
In the fall of her Junior year at high school, Amiryah sauntered in to a room filled with mostly boys. It was a meeting if the school’s cyber club. She quickly scanned the room to see if she knew anyone! The old feelings she experienced in middle school were creeping back into her body. “NO!” she thought. I cannot go back to feeling that way! Finally, her eyes landed on three other girls she had met recently, and she was able to quickly calm herself.
Amiryah and her three best friends all began to regularly attend the cyber club meetings and enrolled in the cyber academic pathway at the school. The girls became known as the G-ForceFour team. They were the one team in the cyber club that jumped at any opportunity to compete in local cyber competitions. Their coach, a former member of the United States Navy and cyber professional was thrilled with the team’s achievements and encouraged the G-ForceFour to enter the CyberPatriot national competition. Amiryah now had purpose and really felt like she belonged. The G-ForceFour, all-girl team was so successful; they went on to the CyberPatriot Regionals, and the California’s Governors Cup.
The shy, inwardly focused Amiryah had grown up and was now a confident young woman. She became a spokesperson around the community and at conferences representing her team with the utmost confidence. At the CCCAOE conference, in front of an audience of hundreds, she shared, “I had so much doubt about my life; but now, because of this program, I believe, and I know I can do anything.”
Bottom line, because a community cared enough to support a school cyber team, a shy, perhaps frightened young girl blossomed into a confident young woman. She is now one of our young California cyber leaders and stands ready to take on the challenges to help protect our community and nation.
*These are true stories but names and some personally identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the subjects.
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