Sharam Karimi clearly remembers the day he had to flee his home of Kabul, Afghanistan.
“Everything happened so quickly and suddenly, no one expected what was going on,” Karimi said. “Whenever the accident happened we just went to the Kabul Airport, which was the one way to leave the country.”
Having to leave his two parents behind, Karimi became legal guardian and provider for his two siblings, and they began the journey to safety.
After traveling across many countries and states the trio arrived in Owensboro in 2021. With the support of the government and Owensboro community, they began to build a new life. Karimi quickly became an active and beloved member of the Owensboro High School community.
Upon their arrival, Karimi and his siblings faced many challenges.
“The main challenge is to handle everything,” Karimi said. “Learning English, working, coming to school, paying bills.”
He also said that OHS itself was overwhelming.
“First, when I came here it was too big for me,” Karimi said.
After a few months, OHS became smaller, and Karimi began to overcome those challenges, make friends and join organizations he was passionate about.
Karimi is a member of the track and field team as a distance runner and a member of the Student Advisory Council, a group that expresses the concerns and needs of students to the administration.
Karimi also talked about his work with the NAACP in helping aid those suffering from the water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi.
“We collected bottled water for Jackson, Mississippi,” Karimi said. “I was involved in writing down some advertisements and hanging them in the school.”
Karimi has also had the chance to travel, and cited his favorite memory as a trip to Washington, D.C. earlier this year where he was able to tour the White House and the Pentagon.
Karimi credited Kelly Fallon, the ELL teacher at OHS, as an impactful person who helped him through the transition and set him up for success.
“She taught me everything,” Karimi said. “I am speaking with you because of her.”
OHS Principal Jennifer Luttrell spoke of the impact that Karimi has had on other students.
“All of us take opportunities for granted, and students at Owensboro High School — knowing his story, the challenges that he has faced and overcome and been resilient — that allows them to push a little harder and not take things for granted that we have so readily available to us,” Lutrell said. “He always has a smile. He knows everyone’s name here. He’s just a very positive, pleasant influence on our culture and climate”
While there are still challenges, Karimi’s hard work and resilient attitude have paid off and his future, like his smile, is looking bright.
Not only was he reunited with his parents two weeks ago, but he recently gained acceptance to Brescia University where he plans on pursuing a career in medicine or law.
Karimi is just one of 287 students in the OHS Class of 2023 that graduated on Wednesday.
Luttrell said that, like Karimi, this class is notable in its resilience and positive attitude.
“The Class of 2023 has been very engaged here at OHS whether it be with extracurriculars, academic pursuits or supporting their fellow classmates,” Lutrell said. “They have such a positive attitude. They’ve been resilient in bouncing back from COVID, seize the moment and live every day at OHS to its fullest.”
Lutrell shared a piece of advice for the graduates going forward.
“Our students here need to believe in themselves, know that they are enough and can do great things,” Luttrell said. “They need to find their passion and what is going to get them out of bed every day.”
Karimi also shared a final word to his classmates.
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift.”