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Custodian’s Daughter Becomes Class Valedictorian and He Couldn’t Be More Proud

By: Krystle Crossman

Biiftu Duresso, 18, gave a moving speech at her graduation. She was the valedictorian of her class at the Joseph C. Wilson Magnet High School in Rochester, NY. Her speech was about people who inspired her every day. Her main focus was her father. He is an Ethiopian immigrant who has worked hard his entire life to provide for his family. Her father, Jamal Abdullahi, and her mother came to America in 1983. They had no jobs and no education but they were determined to make a life and a family in the U.S.

Duresso says that they always worked as hard as they could to dream big and help their children. She has a 4 year old brother and a 16 year old sister. Their parents have always been a source of inspiration for them. Abdullahi works as the night custodian at their high school. He says that he has loved watching Duresso grow into a beautiful and smart young woman and he is very proud of her. He wants his children to get the education that he was not able to get when he was young.

Both of Duresso’s parents came to the U.S. with no educational background. In 2003 her father received his Associate’s degree from Monroe College and then went on to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in 2008 from the College at Brockport. All of his children were very supportive of his desire to further his education. He makes sure that they see the struggles that their family had to go through to get where they are now so they would appreciate the opportunities that they have at this time. He took Duresso to Ethiopia for a trip to see just how little she would have had and how much she would have had to struggle to make it in the world. Duresso took the experience from the trip and wrote her college essay about it. She admitted that before the trip she did not really care as much about her education and she didn’t realize how good she had it now. Abdullahi states that he cannot take credit for his daughter’s success as children need a lot of attention to complete school and there was not much time for him to be involved with that as he worked the night shift.

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