Soraya Yunus 2008
Soraya’s life story has been filled with obstacles to which she responded with perseverance, optimism and determination. Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Soraya and her family fled their beloved country when war broke out and sought refuge in Germany. During the family’s stay in Cologne, she learned the German language, and when she was 10, she moved again – this time to Alexandria. “I was frustrated that I had to start all over again and learn another new language from scratch.” She spent many years in English as a Second Language classes at James K. Polk and Francis C. Hammond Junior High. “With hard work I was in honors classes by the end of junior high.”
Soraya blossomed at T.C. Williams where she “loved the diversity of religions and cultures I was exposed to.” She was active in German and Latin Clubs. T.C. Williams enabled her to begin her college education while in high school where she completed four Advanced Placement courses and gained the discipline and confidence to be successful at the college level. Meanwhile, Soraya faced another crisis with the failing health of her father who underwent major surgery and years of medical treatment and unemployment. Soraya’s guidance counselor observed, “She has shown courage and pluck and she and her mother have supported each other in this stressful situation.”
Soraya knew that she wanted to study for a medical career. Matriculating at George Washington University meant that she would need to combine her academic scholarships and Pell Grants with loans and work study to cover the high cost of education. “One of the proudest days of my parents’ life was the day I received a general fund scholarship and renewal awards from The Scholarship Fund of Alexandria. My father told everyone. No one in my family believed that a public school could afford to give future college students a scholarship.”
After completing a B.S. in chemistry, Soraya earned a second B.S. in the Physician’s Assistant Program at Howard University. She currently lives in Alexandria and works as a physician’s assistant at Southern Maryland Hospital.
T.C. Williams Class of 1993
George Washington University, B.S., Chemistry, 1997
Howard University, B.S., Physician’s Assistant Program, 2004