By Irma Mora
Behind a bright smile lies a life of change, loss and challenges, but a positive attitude accompanied with the love and support of family and friends have helped Cache High School student Batoul Mohamed reach her goal of graduating high school.
“She just has a really quiet strength,” CHS Counselor Launi Evans said. “She’s had so many hard things to go through like that, being uprooted and to go to new places and to start over.”
Mohamed’s family arrived in the United States as refugees from Sudan in 2016 after the loss of her father, Hassan Mohamed. The move from Sudan to Las Vegas was a cultural shock for Mohamed.
“I didn’t know that we have to learn different language,” Mohamed said. “When I got here first, I thought like all the people are going to be the same and nothing was going to change.”
As with many immigrants, one of the toughest challenges Mohamed faced was going to school not knowing English and having to learn the language as well as the culture.
“It was so hard to learn English,” Mohamed said. “The first day I got to school, and when I come back home, I was like, to my mom, ‘No, I’m not going to do this. I just want to go back to Sudan.’”
Mohamed said she wanted to give up but the support she received from her mom, Mehrit, and brother Sadam Mohamed, helped her remember her dad’s wish for her to finish school and become a nurse, pushing her to reach for her goals.
“Batoul, she doesn’t need support,” Sadam said. “She’s the one who help us. You don’t think that we help her that much. She just helps herself because she works so hard.”
The changes kept coming with a move to Utah and transferring to a new school, Mountain Crest, where she made friends and connected with the teachers. She said she finally felt at home at MCHS.
A meeting with an MCHS counselor brought around more bad news and another change. Because the program in which she was enrolled in Sudan didn’t require math, she would not be able to complete all of the credits necessary for her to graduate at MCHS and would have to transfer to Cache High School.
Mohamed said at first she didn’t want to move schools and go through the process of making new friends, learning new programs and meeting new teachers, but now, she said she is grateful for Cache High.
“For me, Cache High is just like Heaven on Earth,” Mohamed said. “My counselor, all the teachers here, they were like — it wasn’t like a teacher and student. It was like a family.”
After Mohamed got past the initial shock, Evan said Mohamed really began to grow, socializing and stepping out of her comfort zone. She turned down having some texts from harder classes translated to Arabic, opting to being immersed in English.
“She not only dug and did what she needed to do to graduate,” Evans said, “she got good grades. She took some classes that were kind of hard.”
CHS English Language Learners teacher Makaela Cutler said despite the many challenges Mohamed faced, she always kept a positive attitude.
“It’s hard to always encourage kids and keep them going when they don’t want to always go themselves,” Cutler said. “With Batoul ... she never complained. She never had a poor attitude about anything.”
As she remembers her life in Sudan, Mohamed said she recognizes the opportunities she has in the U.S. and will continue to reach for her goals.
“She worked for it,” Sadam said. “She did it. I’m so proud of her. She worked so hard.”