DSF Scholar Embraces Changes and Challenges on Journey to College Graduation

As a senior at the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver), DSF Scholar Israa Hussein is expecting to graduate this fall. While the COVID-19 pandemic evolves and her priorities shift from day-to-dayshe’s keeping her eyes on the prize: College graduation.


Facing uncertainty with determination

This isn’t the first time Israa has demonstrated bravery in the face of uncertainty. When the Hussein family left Iraq and arrived in the United States in 2009Israa had not received any prior education. Immersed in an unfamiliar city and navigating a foreign language, Israa says she did not know how to spell her name. Diving head-first into her new life was not easy. But Israa was determined to learn, knowing her parents had sacrificed so much to allow her to gain an education. 

“I transferred three times before I ended up at South High School,” Israa shares. “That was where I found a support system.”

“My brain was making up for 12 years of education. It would take lifetimes to repay what my parents did to make this possible.”

College dreams, college reality

Finding support in the DSF Future Center at South High School, Israa applied to college, which marked the beginning of her journey at CU Denver. After starting classes at CU Denver, Israa found a mentor in her DSF Campus Contact, Chris. With Chris’s guidance, Israa says she discovered her passion for the field of psychology. 

“Chris was a big help,” Israa says. “He helped me see the bigger picture. This led me to select psychology as my major.”

“I realized that I wanted to devote myself to helping others. It’s easy to see a broken hand; it’s not as easy to see a broken mind. I’m proud of being able to see people in a brighter light.”

For her achievements, determination, and positive spirit, Israa was honored as DSF Student of the Year, an award given by DSF and CU Denver to a student who shows outstanding dedication to their academics and involvement within their communities.

Taking it one day at a time

During the pandemic, Israa remains committed to making the best of the situationWhether she’s making sure her family’s immediate needs are met, or staying on top of assignment deadlines now that classes are online, Israa knows she can rely on her DSF Campus Advisor, Josue, to maintain her forward momentum towards college graduation.

Now, more than ever before, Israa says it’s important for people to see the good in one another. 

“There’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment,” says Israa.

“I’m taking it day by day and going through the hierarchy of what’s most important: Does my family have enough groceries and supplies? Do we have enough money? Will classes continue? Will I graduate? We can’t panic—we have to look out for each other, and breathe.”