Bob Jones High School
Alma’s father passed away unexpectedly in 2013. At the time, she and her two younger siblings were living with her father and stepmother. With her father’s death, Alma was left to figure out the family finances and gain access to their bank accounts because her stepmother speaks little English. While grieving her father’s sudden death, it fell to Alma to make the payments for utilities, the car, food and other bills as well as arranging the receipt of his death certificate and all other legal details associated with the death of a loved one.
Six months later, Alma’s biological mother (who had little contact with the family) passed away. Her mother’s death brought up the legality of guardianship. Her stepmother wanted to send Alma and her siblings to Dubai to live with relatives of her father. Alma was against this idea. Having grown up in America, she was determined to finish high school and attend college in the United States. After spending the summer in Dubai, Alma convinced her uncle and stepmother to allow her to stay in the U.S., and she was granted self-guardianship. Alma remains in charge of the family finances and helps her stepmother to provide speech therapy and care for her younger brother who has autism. J. Cory Wright, one of Alma’s instructors at Bob Jones High School, wrote, “Throughout all of it, she kept an amazing attitude, tutored fellow students as a member of the Mu Alpha Theta math honor society, served as both member and officer of various clubs and organizations, never failed to have a positive attitude, and never fell behind in her classwork.”
Alma has a 4.78 grade point average on a 4.00 weighted scale, and she is ranked 13th in her class of 576. Teacher Jan Krell commented, “She always has a smile on her face as she goes about her daily routine of finishing high school and selecting a university. Along the way, she has gained the respect and admiration of everyone who has known her through this difficult journey.”
In her community, Alma tutors students in math and teaches Spanish to second-graders at the local elementary school. She created and ran a music venue that raised more than $700 for charity, and she helped organize the community’s International Festival.
Lesa M. Clough, the Spanish teacher who nominated Alma as a Young Hero said of her, “This young woman would never waste an opportunity presented to her…She is an amazing example to all of us and a young women whom I admire tremendously.”
Responsibility to family and continued excellence in the face of sudden and unexpected hardships – for these qualities, Alma Atassi is recognized by her school and our state as one of the 2014 Young Heroes of Alabama.