RAKAN SAEED: Balancing work, school

SaeedDONEIn Arabic, senior Rakan Saeed’s name means quiet. Being in his presence, you would understand that his name suits him perfectly well.

He and his family came from Yemen five years ago. His dad owns a couple of stores and decided to take his business to America. They arrived in the States with a warm welcoming from his cousins who had come before them.
With a dialect undistorted and his words carefully enunciated, few would guess that his tongue was once foreign to the English language.

“When I first came here, I didn’t know English,” Saeed said.

Saeed needed to be held back in the eighth grade. He didn’t allow this setback to cripple him. It only ignited his persistence in school.

Another barrier that he didn’t allow to get in his way is living so far away from Stagg. In his freshman year, every day he commuted to school, catching bus rides that took about an hour.

His home school is originally Franklin High, but because he was a part of the Newcomer English Language Development Program, which has since been discontinued, he was able to attend Stagg. “He was never late,” Homar Juarez, who was Saeed’s teacher at the time, said.

Saeed’s independence and focus lead him to his current status — a senior ahead on credits. As a result, he only needs four classes to graduate and holds a 3.45 grade point average. He is well on his way to graduating.

“Saeed came with a plan and executed it,” Juarez said.

After his classes, he sometimes works as a cash register for his dad’s shop.

In his family, Saeed’s dad is the parent who had made it the furthest in education.

As soon as his father graduated from high school, he went into business.

Saeed has a plan to pursue his education even further by attending Delta College to get a degree and study to become an engineer. His mom supports and encourages him to stay in school.

Juarez says he was a model student. When Saeed was in the program with other English learners, he was still willing to help his classmates. “(He) was very open to other cultures,” Juarez said. “He embraces everyone.”

Seniors Griselda Lara and Miguel Padilla, who were in the program with Saeed, remember him as being “very smart.” Padilla also had him in P.E. and says that he was a good friend.

“I learned a lot in Mr. Juarez’s class,” Saeed said. “He helped me a lot.”