Maria and Sophia were forced to flee their home country of Ukraine on March 5th, 2022, due to the Russian invasion. Their sudden departure left them separated from their loved ones and everything they knew. Thankfully, they received a recommendation from their cousin to attend Aim High, which would not only help them make the most of their summer but also ease their transition into a new country. Even though they applied on the last day of admissions, the sisters were accepted into the Ingleside site, bringing a ray of hope during a difficult time in their lives.
Nadiya, their mother, understood that they could never return to their previous life and home. Despite her own trauma, she was determined to help her daughters move forward. “We can’t dwell on the past,” she said. “We need to focus on positive things for the girls.” That was her top priority when they arrived in the US.
Sophia added: “School was hard because of different cultures and languages, but everyone there, like the teachers, students, and staff, were really friendly and made us feel like we belonged.”
Maria fondly remembers her first encounter with Aim High: “At first, I didn’t want to go to school in the summer, but then I changed my mind when I went to Aim High. The things we did were fun and everyone was nice and helpful, so I felt happy to learn and be with others.”
Nadiya chuckled and said, “They didn’t want to go to Aim High and had tears in their eyes, but when the program ended, they had tears in their eyes again because they didn’t want it to be over.”
Sophia absolutely loved Aim High’s lively and welcoming environment, especially how it provided so many opportunities for teamwork and fun activities. Although it wasn’t always easy, she found the chance to improve her math skills incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.
“The program was very welcoming and the teachers and staff showed a lot of care towards the students. I formed many connections with teachers.” Those connections endured and both sisters have stayed in touch with the friends they made during the program and their Aim High teachers.
Sophia had a lot to say about how Aim High helped her grow emotionally during the summer:
“The class called Issues and Choices at Aim High helped me understand my feelings better and made me feel more confident. Now, instead of thinking about bad things that happened in the past, I have lots of good memories to think about and things I want to do.”
As Sophia spoke about her increased confidence at Aim High, Maria shook her head and smiled, “I don’t think Aim High made me more confident,” she said. “I was always confident.” However, she admitted that the program helped her improve her comfort level in “talking and hanging out with kids from different cultures.”
Sophia’s love for animals started when she was a little girl, and now she’s seriously considering becoming a veterinarian. Thanks to Aim High’s “Future Success” class, she was able to explore various biomedical colleges and careers, gaining a clearer understanding of her interests and options.
Meanwhile, Maria is grateful to Aim High for providing valuable guidance on high school applications and options, along with all the fun activities and academic support. She’s now considering a career in business or law!
After the girls finished sharing their vision of the future, their mother Nadiya wanted to share their experience with Aim High as a family.
“It was very difficult for us but we knew we had to move on. While their school was supportive, Aim High was something special. The program helped improve their English and Math skills. The girls were really happy. We are grateful for the support Aim High provided in applying to high schools this year. The application process was overwhelming for us, but Aim High made it easy.”
She added: “Thank you, Aim High, you guys are doing a great job for us (parents) and for the girls!”