CLINTON TWP., Mich. (FOX 2) – Just two years ago, Kelvin Hasanaj, a senior graduate, arrived not only at Clintondale High School, but also in the United States of America.
His parents sent him to America from Albania to be with an older brother and other family members in hopes of a better life and a better education.
“More opportunities for me, to live here to have a better future,” he said.
Friday was his debut day. But he had his share of challenges along the way.
“I was afraid to speak, maybe I’d mess up,” he said.
Kelvin understood English but speaking it and making sure others understood it was difficult – but he refused to give up.
“I learned English at school, mostly from movies and talking to people here,” Kelvin said.
School administrators saw how Kelvin worked to overcome obstacles
“There’s a word for him today, and it’s resilient,” Clintondale Superintendent Rodriguez Broadnax said.
“I’m really proud of him, he’s grown so much,” school counselor Courtney Carroll said. “The only difference between when he started doing it now is huge. And I think Dollars for Scholars and the relationships he’s built have a lot to do with that.”
Those who have worked with Kelvin say Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars is a big part of his success.
“It really helps inspire them,” said Khrista Funk, executive director, Detroit Regional Dollars for Scholars. “And prepare them for success in life after high school.”
“We have seen the benefits for all of our students and hope that one day the program can expand to include more of our students,” said Clintondale Principal Meloney Cargill.
Kelvin credits Dollars for Scholars for helping him improve his English and providing him with resources to help open the door to college.
“We are so excited that he is going to Oakland University with our scholarship and our support,” Funk said.
“I would like to thank you for the opportunity you all have given me now,” Kelvin said.
FOX 2: “How does it feel to live our American dream?”
“Pretty good. I’m planning my future,” he said.