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Graduating senior shares journey from mortar shells to mortarboard

April 24, 2012

  • Ahmad Jan Ali on Thanksgiving Day 2007 (photo by Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian)

Undergraduate Campus

Senior Ahmad Jan Ali was featured in the Oregonian today for his extraordinarily uncommon journey to Lewis & Clark.

The son of an Afghan goat bleeder, Ali was forced by the Taliban to flee to Iran in 1999 before he finished sixth grade. He defied the Taliban by teaching himself English and upon his return to Afghanistan, he was hired as an interpreter by a U.S. Army unit. Within two years, an army colonel helped secure an immigration visa for him, and Ali risked his life again to make the trip to Islamabad to deliver the papers necessary to travel to the United States.

When he arrived in Oregon in 2007, he enrolled at Chemeketa Community College. Lewis & Clark later offered him a full scholarship to complete his degree in international affairs. He will graduate this May.

“When I reflect back on my life and journey,” Ali told the Oregonian, “I can’t believe I’m here at Lewis & Clark and about to graduate. My story is a sign that anyone can achieve a goal or a dream.”

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