When Ayse (pronounced, Ah-eesha) was 17 she had a beautiful life in Turkey.
A typical teenage girl, she loved playing volleyball and hanging out with her friends. But then her father won the Diversity Visa Lottery (aka, Green Card lottery) to come to the U.S.
“To be honest, I wasn’t happy about leaving Turkey.” But her father jumped at the chance to offer his daughters a different life with more educational opportunities.
Soon, Ayse found herself enrolled at Kent Meridian High School. “I didn’t speak any English at first, but I caught up fast.” She also made a new circle of friends and this helped her adjust. “Some of them were from Iraq and Turkey, and we would practice English together.” Her English improved enough for her to join Running Start and she graduated high school in three years.
One of her friends introduced her to ReWA’s Post-Secondary Success Program (PSSP) where youth can learn about potential career paths and get help applying for scholarships.
“I chose to study nursing because I was always interested in science, specifically, biology and anatomy.”
Her ReWA career coach, Reza, gave her a list of pre-requisites to complete before she could enroll in nursing school. “I kept that list in my files and when I finished a class, I crossed it off my list.”
At the same time, Ayse started working as a receptionist in ReWA’s SeaTac office. “It was a good way for me to practice English and get work experience. I like to help support the case managers working with ReWA clients. Being able to help others makes me happy.”
Gradually, Ayse worked her way down the list of nursing prerequisites, completing courses at in History, English, Psychology, Math, Biology and Chemistry and earning her Associates degree in Pre-Nursing from Renton Technical College. She even joined a Pre-nursing Club of other students who are working towards the same goal. She hopes that within a couple years she’ll be Registered Nurse and be able to apply all she has learned in a successful career.
Looking back, she sees the risk of leaving Turkey was worth it: she and her sister are both studying for careers in health care.
She smiled, “I guess I’m glad of my father’s decision after all.”