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Big Brothers Big Sisters
Published: 24 May 2016

In a region where one-in-four high school students fail to get their diploma with their classmates, high school graduation is a big deal. For 18-year-old Hibo Abitdon, who’s overcome overwhelming challenges in her young life, graduation is an especially big deal.  The David Douglas High School Senior points to her Big Sister as her muse and motivation.

Hibo will be among 30 high school seniors who will take part in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Graduation on Tuesday, May 24, from 6-8 pm at Kaiser Town Hall, 3704 N Interstate, Portland. More than 130 people will attend.

Hibo’s challenges have been significant. She has used a wheelchair since age 5. At age 7, the outgoing, smiley Somalian girl moved from Egypt to Portland with her mother and siblings. The transition was hard. Money was tight. Gang activity dominated her apartment complex. She spent time in foster care.

That’s when Hibo met Julia at age 11. As she puts it, she wanted someone to talk to. Julia was thrilled to be that person, motivated in part by her feeling that she didn’t have someone who took an interest in her as a child.

The match became fast friends. Supported by Big Brothers Big Sisters, they built their relationship over the next few years as Julia listened and gave Hibo the opportunity for new experiences and opportunities.

Inspired by her role model, Hibo will take her first trip outside Oregon after graduation. She plans to attend college this fall and must decide among multiple offers. A scholarship is in the works.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters is focused on helping children beat the odds, build lasting bonds and graduate high school ready for college and career,” says Andy Nelson, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters. “We are building a graduation pipeline by pairing children facing risks with caring role models and helping them build the Life Skills they need for success. We call this Finish Strong.”

At its annual graduation, BBBS will honor its 39 high school seniors, all of whom are graduating thanks to the lasting bond they have built with their Big Brother or Sister. In fact, BBBS’s 100% graduation rate stands in stark contrast to Oregon’s 74% graduation rate. And for children who come from low-income backgrounds, the graduation rate is just 65%.

“All of our seniors have been with their Bigs throughout their four years of high school,” said Nelson. “Clearly, this bond has helped our kids overcome the odds and graduate, ready for what is next.”


Big Brothers Big Sisters High School Graduation

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 from 6-8 pm

Kaiser Town Hall, 3704 N Interstate, Portland, Oregon

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