First-generation teen becomes Duncanville HS valedictorian

A first generation teen to immigrant parents is celebrating a big milestone and honor this weekend.

Hannah Ismail is a senior at Duncanville High School. After four years of hard work, she is the valedictorian of the class of 2018 out of more than 800 students. She was accepted and won scholarships to all three colleges she applied to.

It's been a long journey for Ismail on the way to becoming valedictorian of her graduating class.

“It's just the icing on the cake,” she said. “It was weird. It was almost like relief. But at the same time, it was like, ‘Wow. I have to make a speech now! Uh oh.’”

Ismail is the daughter of immigrants. She is the youngest of seven and first generation after her parents left for the U.S. 35 years ago.

“They just came for better opportunities,” she said. “They knew they were going to have a family.”

Ismail’s own parents were unable to complete their own high school education because their school closed amidst increasing violence in their home country. She says she's inspired by her own family's hard work ethic.

“Everything my sisters did, they would try their best in school,” she said. “And it was just this family motto that if you're going to do something, you're going to do the best you can regardless of whether or not it's in school or your job or even in your hobbies. Just do the best you can.”

Ismail will make sure to thank them in her valedictorian speech that she'll make in front of more than 800 classmates and their families at graduation Friday night.

Up next, Ismail plans to attend UT- Dallas on a full ride. She also won scholarships to UT-Austin and SMU. But she has one last hurdle in her high school career to get through first: her valedictorian speech.

Ismail plans to get a degree in electrical engineering and wants to go on and get her master’s degree in business administration.

The class of 2018 from Duncanville High School graduates Friday night at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

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