Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson partnered with Alaska Airlines to hold a special celebration for graduating seniors from the Tukwila and Highline school districts this morning. His message: “You are what you think you are, and you will become what you believe you will become.”

Mr. Wilson was thankful to be able to “spend time with the next generation of World Changers.”

Congratulations to the four Bulldogs who each received (surprise!) “No Time to Sleep” $1,000 scholarships from Alaska Airlines for overcoming significant obstacles and showing fierce tenacity in achieving their diploma: Jabez Adjei, Sara Arevalo Rivas, Berhane Ebit, and Marcus Taylor.

Here’s why these seniors were honored:

  • Marcus Taylor has significantly improved from his freshman to his senior year. His first three years at Foster, he wasn’t sure of how to be the best he could be academically and wasn’t getting the grades he was capable of achieving. One of his teachers described him as a young man that was full of unrealized potential—incredibly intelligent but unaware of that quality in himself. Midpoint in his junior year, Marcus really began to turn around his academic persona by taking feedback and becoming more serious about his classwork. As a senior, Marcus has truly come alive as a student and as a scholar, utilizing his innate intelligence in classes daily. His interpersonal and networking skills have grown from being the freshman comedian to forming deep, lasting relationships with teachers, counselors, coaches and administrators. Marcus is compassionate with teachers and peers, always finding a way to make people smile or laugh, or to be of gentle and automatic assistance when those around him are really struggling. Marcus’ growth has been astounding to witness. He brings light and joy to the world around him and will continue coming into his own as he grows in life experiences.
  • Sara Arevalos Rivas has always liked school but has struggled with staying involved, taking care of responsibilities, challenging classes, etc. But this year she’s been amazing: she’s 100-percent present and involved in class, every day. She is serious, responsible, and driven, always pushing herself to excellence in her work. At a time when so many seniors struggle to stay involved, Sara continues to push herself to do even better.  She occasionally slips or makes mistakes, but she immediately works to catch up again. She is ending the year strong, confident, aware, and positive, and she’s really holding herself accountable every minute in class.
  • Jabez Adjei is from Ghana.  While there, his eldest cousin—his mentor, male role model, and academic supporter—died. Jabez fell into a deep depression. In order to be able to help Jabez, his father brought him over to the United States in 2012. He struggled learning the English language.  He was at Showalter, but when he arrived at Foster he was still in English-language support classes. Through perseverance and hard work, he not only caught up but he excelled. He made his way up to Advanced Placement English Literature & Composition. He might not have made the highest grade in AP Lit, but he was the most determined and focused. He has learned how to self-advocate and be resourceful and figure out what it is he needs to achieve success. His writing has improved leaps and bounds, and he is one of the best at knowing the definitions of some of the most obscure literary terms. He attributes this all to Foster, its teachers and staff. He is extremely grateful for his education and the opportunities he has received at Foster High School.
  • Berhane Ebit transferred to Foster in March 2014 from Ethiopia.  Berhane was born in Eritrea, but due to the Eritrean-Ethiopian War of 1998-2000, Behane and his family ended up living as refugees in Ethiopia. With the help of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Berhane and his family relocated to Tukwila and Berhane enrolled at Foster. The move to the United States has not been easy for Berhane and his family. Not only was Berhane an older student when he enrolled at Foster, he had to learn English, too. Due the situation in Africa, Berhane also had gaps in his education. Berhane and his family have faced challenges with housing, living in a shelter for a about six months after arriving in Tukwila. After all these obstacles, Berhane will be graduating with the class of 2017 in June—he has worked so hard to achieve success!