Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, faculty, staff, families, friends, and students.

I’m honored to be here and I want to thank you for this opportunity. My name is Fatima Zeroual and I’m originally from Morocco. I came to the U.S. alone in 2005 looking for a better life. I didn’t speak any English when I got here, zero. I started working as a cashier at a fast food restaurant barely making enough money to pay rent and buy food. In my country I was a practicing lawyer with a Master’s Degree. Coming here I felt like an infant starting from nothing.

I began taking classes at the Carlos Rosario School in 2006. In 2008 I was awarded a Carlos Rosario scholarship to help with college expenses at the University of the District of Columbia. I understand there are some of you who will be receiving scholarships to help you pay for college. Congratulations!

These days I am working on my Master’s Degree in Finance from Strayer University. I’ll be graduating next week June 24. I’m using these financial skills doing payroll for the DC Department of Transportation where I have been since 2013.

And I am proud to announce that this past January I started a nonprofit call Ibno Sabeel that is dedicated to empowering women and children. Ibno Sabeel’s mission is to support, nurture, and empower communities and individuals of all ages and secure a better quality of life.

And that’s my message to you graduates. You will face a lot of problems, a lot of challenges in life. In fact I’m sure many, if not all, of you already have. We must never, ever give up. Stay focused and work hard. You have to knock on all the doors. You have to knock until one of them opens for you. There are many resources out there and people who want to help, find them.

I’d like to conclude by saying thank you to the Carlos Rosario School for everything you’ve done for me. I know this school is full of people who want to help. I am living proof of that. I’d like to thank Ms. Sonia Gutierrez for her dedication since the very beginning and Allison Kokkoros for her continued leadership. And special Thanks to Miss Sherrie McKenna how gave me the scholarship for two years

And there’s a quote by an unknown author that sums up my message to you: “I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known”.

Congratulations, all the very best and thank you.