The students who don’t waste opportunities

Some kids appreciate the opportunity they get with a free education; some kids don’t. Two stories in the news today make that point abundantly — and frustratingly — clear.

In the story posted on NewsCut earlier today, an English teacher got frustrated because an assignment he handed out to write a persuasive speech didn’t get done by some kids. After a week or two, they cut class because they didn’t do the assignment and a teacher got into trouble because he apparently sees the waste of an opportunity.

Dalila Nurkic doesn’t.

The Fargo Forum details her story today and it’s one you’ve probably heard before, particularly with young people from somewhere else.

Enemy soldiers took over the family home in Bosnia in 1993. Her father spent six months in a concentration camp while her mother took care of 1-year-old Dalila, her 8-year-old brother, Jasmin, and 5-year-old sister, Ilda, at their home.

Whatever belongings the family had, they lost. For three years, they lived in a refugee camp until one day when they got on a plane, and landed in Fargo.

Her parents enrolled her in kindergarten even though she didn’t understand English, but by third grade, she was acting as a translator for her parents and others in the Bosnian community of Fargo.

She didn’t waste the opportunity she was given.

“I read books like crazy,” Dalila says. “And by junior high at Ben Franklin, I was reading a book a week. I could use really big vocabulary words because of it.”

At Fargo North High School, Dalila kept reading and focused on academics and tennis. Wanting to help her parents, who both found jobs working on assembly lines, 17-year-old Dalia applied for a job at Gate City Bank in Fargo as a customer service trainee.

She has remained at Gate City for four years and moved up to customer service representative/ teller and is a personal banker. She has worked between 20-40 hours a week while she’s carried a full load of college classes.

“I wanted to help people, and I can do that in this position,” Dalila says.

“I love the relationships I have made with my customers, who often peek in to see how I’m doing with home and school.”

This week she receives her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Minnesota State University Moorhead. From the sound of the article, she may end up back in Bosnia, because she wants to be from somewhere, and wants a deeper identity.

Among the many mysteries of the universe are these: People fight wars, people rise from the ashes and succeed, and some people who have a head start in life skip class and waste opportunities.

  • Emery

    I very much like the way unruly students are separated early on in
    Finnish schools. Many American schools have a minority of unruly
    students who make learning impossible for the rest. Segregating out
    disruptive students into high-discipline remedial classes improves
    learning for the rest, provides incentives to improve for the simply
    lazy, and allows directed remedial attention for those who need it most.
    Without the unruly students, we could maintain high student/teacher
    ratios in high performing classrooms, allowing low student/teacher
    ratios for the unruly and slow who need the attention.