By David Simpson

On May 6, Fozi Alkaifi – only 19 years old – will graduate from 最靠谱的网赌软件 with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics. 这本身是值得注意的,但还有更多.

On the same day, his sister Seena, 21, a public health major, will receive her ODU学士学位.

他们24岁的妹妹Sana也会这么做,她正在学习心理学.

That’s right: The Alkaifi name will be announced no fewer than three times at S.B. Ballard Stadium.

“今年是全家的毕业年!西娜笑着说.

他们经历了很多才来到这里. 经历了这一切——逃离也门内战, moving to America, 适应文化, 在新学校注册, 寻找学术路径, enduring COVID-19 shutdowns – they've drawn strength from a powerful source: one another.

“家庭是第一位的,”福齐说. “家庭很重要。.”

2015年初,战机 fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen bombed the southwestern city of Taiz, 阿凯菲一家住在哪里——五个孩子和他们的母亲. 当时,他们的父亲和大哥都出国了.  

The children felt the blast while playing with their cousins outside their grandfather’s house, Fozi remembered.

“我们看到烟升起来了,我告诉我所有的堂兄弟,‘进来! Come in! Come in!然后他们就开始跑进房子里. 你知道,当炸弹发生时,房子会继续摇晃. When a bomb goes down, there's a couple of explosions, not just that one. 它爆炸了,然后又爆炸了,整个房子都在摇晃.”

这不是他们第一次有这样的经历. 一天,一枚炮弹在Sana和Seena就读的学校附近爆炸.

"There was a huge noise, and the whole school went crazy,” Seena said. “We were under tables, and I vividly remember the faces of all the girls. It was terrifying.”  

更糟的是, the family lived just one street away from the Ministry of Transport, Seena said, a prime target where warehouses held explosives used in building roads and rail lines.

"So if something happened, our house was literally next to it,” Fozi said.

他们知道他们必须离开.

“事情很紧急,”Sana说.

Alkaifis则更多 比他们的许多邻居都幸运. 他们有个安全的地方可去.

Their father is an expatriate who has lived in Norfolk since 1998 and works as a chief electrician for the Military Sealift Command. 在他的祖国内战爆发之前, 他每一两年就会去也门呆一个月, his children said. A civilian, he spends most of his time at sea aboard vessels serving U.S. 海军舰艇和基地.

他们的母亲是全职妈妈 “both our mom and dad at the same time when our dad wasn’t there,” Sana said.

尽管2015年搬家很动荡, Seena said, 兄弟姐妹们开始适应他们的新环境. They enrolled in school, eventually graduating from Granby High in Norfolk.

When the time came to go to college, each of them opted to stay close to their family.

“Family is first. 家庭很重要.” – Fozi Alkaifi

Sana started at Tidewater Community College as a medical laboratory student, 后来转到最靠谱的网赌软件学习心理学.

Seena和Fozi是ODU的大一学生. Seena started out studying dental hygiene but soon changed to public health. Fozi entered the civil engineering program before switching to big data analytics, 数学与统计系的专业.

Belonging to a tight-knit family helped them navigate the changes, they said. And though their father is often away, his children see him more often than they used to.

"I personally like it here,” Seena said, “because I get to experience life with my dad. 感觉他比我们在也门的时候离我们更近了.”

At ODU, they were happy to find students from a wide variety of backgrounds.  

“ODU is so diverse,” Sana said, “I feel like every time I see a person that's Middle Eastern or from my country I'll be like, ‘Oh, 我在这里也有家人.’”

“你会看到人们也有兴趣了解你,” Seena said, 这是我喜欢的. 如果我感到受欢迎或者你对我的好奇心是积极的, 这是我喜欢教别人的东西.”

They all speak fluent English, having learned it in private school back home. 尽管如此,一些社交场合还是很艰难.

“当我们第一次来到这里时,这是一种文化冲击,”西娜说. “就像,你不知道如何表演. What to do? Joking or talking, it's all really difficult, even if I'm good in English.”

但他们知道在哪里可以进行简单而深入的交流.

福齐说:“我的逃生方式就是,‘哦,我的兄弟姐妹! 我可以回去做我自己.’”

虽然攻读不同的专业 兴趣方面,三个孩子在课堂上都表现出色. 他们三人都曾担任科学院的导师.

“他们都很棒,安德里亚·斯蒂芬说, 科学辅导中心的科学支持服务经理. “他们每个人都非常可靠和负责任. They're able to maintain their grades while also helping students who are being challenged in their courses.”

Sana has tutored students in psychology, Seena in chemistry and Fozi in math.

“I have a passion for teaching,” Seena said, “so I was like, OK, let me just do this and help others.”

“I love to see how students feel happy after passing their exam – getting a good grade after they have been struggling,” Fozi said.

Seena and Fozi recruited Sana after she aced a tough psychology course, Quantitative Methods.

“My sister and brother were like, 'Why don't you just teach that class, like, tutor? 因为有一个心理辅导的地方,’”Sana说. “I was like, ‘OK, 我看到学生们在那门课上很挣扎,那有多难, 我也应该帮助别人.’”

Besides tutoring, Seena worked as an undergraduate research assistant for Erika Frydenlund and Lydia Cleveland Sá. She helped start the Pre-Dental Committee at ODU in Fall 2022 and has been vice chairman since then. 她还担任穆斯林学生协会的秘书. As for her future, she has applied to dental schools but is also considering a master’s program at ODU in education or public health.

Fozi published a paper on bioinformatics in the journal Cell Reports with Jiangwen Sun of the Computer Science Department and is hoping to publish a paper this summer with Felix Ringer of the Physics Department. In August, Fozi will start work as a data analyst with Capital One in Richmond. At the same time, he wants to take physics classes and possibly pursue a Ph.D. 在数学物理中.

Sana is a self-employed photographer who lately has been taking pictures of other graduating seniors. She has a job waiting for her as a teacher assistant at the Barry Robinson Center in Norfolk. Long term, she's considering applying for the master’s program in psychology at ODU in preparation for working in clinical psychology, 重点是儿童.

随着阿尔凯菲夫妇最后一个学期的结束, 他们的父亲设法请假去参加毕业典礼了.

这将是盛大的一天. 但5月6日并不意味着奥巴马家族在奥大的传奇故事就此结束.

另一个兄弟——马迪——就在他们后面. An information systems and technology major in the 斯特罗姆商学院, 他将于2024年毕业.

And their youngest brother, Ramzi, is graduating from Granby High this spring. 他已经被ODU录取了,正在权衡这个提议. 但就他的兄弟姐妹而言,他的路线是明确的.

“I told him to accept it, because you've gotta follow the history,” Fozi said.

“没错,”西娜笑着说. “人们离开了,新的人会进来.”