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Despite starting over several times, SJCA’s Hamad will graduate on time

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 5/4/23

FLEMING ISLAND – Sana Hamad’s life has been on do-over after another.

Born in Iraq, she had to learn English when her family moved to Texas when she was 5. Then after moving to Florida two …

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Despite starting over several times, SJCA’s Hamad will graduate on time


Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – Sana Hamad’s life has been one do-over after another.

Born in Iraq, she had to learn English when her family moved to Texas when she was 5. After moving to Florida two years ago, she had to retake state exams she already passed two years ago.

Equally unsettling was the adjustment from a public school with more than 1,000 students to the quaint confines of St. Johns Classical Academy.

“My high school experience has been very weird,” she said. “I went from a school with thousands of people to a school with only 22 seniors.”

Standard testing from Texas didn’t comply with Florida, Sana said. So, state exams taken in 10th grade had to be retaken during her junior and senior years at JSCA.

And she had to do it while working a part-time job.

“COVID didn’t help,” Sana said. “I had to re-do everything, and working from home because of COVID wasn’t easy.”

Sana works three hours for the YMCA after-school program at the Classical Academy. She got home at 6:30 p.m. and still had hours of studying to catch up.

“I had a hard time with time management,” she said. “I had to reorganize myself and do schoolwork. Time management was a struggle for me because I ran off little hours of sleep. I mean, it was just the cycle. Every single day was just the same thing. So I got tired at moments, but I also had good moments at the same time.

“It took a long time. I had to go to tutoring. I had to take practice tests. I didn’t want to quit. I wanted to persevere and go through it. I wanted to finish the year off strong.”

Sana will join 21 other senior classmates for the school’s graduation program on May 19 at Hibernia Baptist Church on Fleming Island. She will do it as a newly naturalized citizen.

“When I came to America, it was 2010, and I knew little to no English at all,” she said. “I was a very quiet kid. I didn’t even speak Arabic. I was just super shy at home and in school.

“It was a struggle learning a new language and getting along with customs and the culture here. And I also had a hard time in elementary school, too.”

Her parents became U.S. citizens in 2016. Sana was naturalized last August.

Sana said she plans to attend St. Johns River State College next year before transferring to the University of North Florida.