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Ayi helps Brayden with his homework at the Boys & Girls Club in Concord. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

Ayi helps Brayden with his homework at the Boys & Girls Club in Concord. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

An American dream comes true

Ayi D'Almeida started high school as a resettled refugee who spoke little English. Foundation donors helped him afford college. He graduated with honors.

Ayi D’Almeida was 6 years old when his family fled Togo for a refugee camp in Ghana.

The little boy didn’t carry much. But he clung to this message from his grandfather: Education is everything.

Ayi’s family was eventually settled in Concord by the U.S. Department of State. He showed up at Concord High at 15 with almost no English, but an irrepressible will. He never wanted to miss a day of school. Whenever a teacher offered help, Ayi accepted. Teammates and coaches tutored him. Anna-Marie DiPasquale, a school social worker, insisted he was going to college.

At the University of New Hampshire, Ayi double majored in international affairs and psychology. Four donors who created scholarship funds at the Foundation helped cover the cost. Ayi always showed up for study groups and professors’ office hours.

Ayi D’Almeida graduated from UNH with honors. He dreams of earning a master’s in public health.

Ayi visited his grandfather in Africa after graduation. The old man took him house to house, introducing him: “This is my grandson from America. He has graduated with honors.”

Ayi is working with AmeriCorps now, mentoring kids at a Boys & Girls Club. The kids stream in after school. The first thing he asks the first boy through the door: “Did you bring your homework?”

Each year, the Foundation awards more than $5 million in scholarships to students across New Hampshire, including students like Ayi. Earlier this month, Ayi spoke at our annual meeting and talked about how Foundation scholarships made a difference in his life (Ayi is introduced at 4:07).