Ahraf Swati’s life in this country began in New York, but his parents eventually moved to South Louisiana to raise their family.
The struggles of life as immigrants, dealing with cultural barriers and above all, an abusive father, was more than he could handle.
“My family had problems with my father. Alcoholism, drug abuse, verbal and physical abuse among me, my brother and mother. We had financial deprivation,” he says.
The family ran a convenience store for years before his father lost the business.
Ahraf says he worked there from the 8th grade until high school and it was tough.
“Maintaining high grades and extracurricular activities…it’s difficult to compete when you’re struggling with all of these other things at home,” he says.
And when he couldn’t take any more…
“I moved out due to some differences. For a while, I was couch hopping going from door to door staying with friends”, Ahraf recalls.
He says the timing couldn’t have been worse.
“It makes things a bit tough especially towards the end of my senior year when everyone’s kinda planning their graduation where I’m worried about whose house I’m going to stay at for the night,” he explains.
Ahraf would eventually move in with his girlfriend’s family who welcomed him with open arms.
In the meantime, his relationship with his father deteriorated.
“We don’t really talk,” he says.
Ahraf’s ambition was seen as defiance instead of achievement driving a deep wedge between the two.
When it can time for this valedictorian’s graduation.
“I invited him, I couldn’t do that and not bring him. My relationship with my mother and brothers is still perfectly fine, in fact, I think it’s grown stronger since I left,” Ahraf says.
His future is bright he says thanks in part to prominent Lafayette injury attorney Glenn Armentor and his pay it forward scholarship program.
He could be investing in something else, but he’s made us his investment. I’m so excited and extremely grateful,” he says.
The Opelousas High school valedictorian is certainly a driven student and it’s impressive he’s achieved so much academically with all of the challenges he’s faced in his young life.
He says he plans to obtain his MBA in health administration, then work as an rn in a critical care unit to get experience.
From there he wants to attend LSU in New Orleans to become a nurse anesthetist and a clinical nurse officer before becoming the CEO of a hospital.