Where Is She Now?


by Staff | January 29, 2024

Update: Ayat graduated from Clarkston High School in 2022 and is currently a sophomore at Georgia Gwinnett College majoring in Political Science, aiming for Law School to specialize in immigration law. She is also taking a course with a subsequent internship to possibly get a paralegal certification.


Ayat was extraordinarily shy and quiet when she enrolled at Global Village Project. The teenager, who moved with her family from Syria in 2015, spoke no English. “The only words I could say were ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye,'” she says.

She was laser-focused on learning English. “I would tell her it’s okay to speak in Arabic once in a while, but she was so focused on learning English that she declined to do so,” recollects Ms. Amy Pun, Newcomer Teacher at that time.

The journey to the United States was not an easy one, though. Ayat’s family first moved to neighboring Jordan after the unrest in Syria began. They lived in the new country for nearly five years before coming to Atlanta.

Initially, she enrolled in a DeKalb County public school. Ayat, like many others, had difficulty understanding the lessons, as she spoke no English, so she left Freedom Middle School in Stone Mountain after two months.

Soon, she was admitted to GVP, in January 2016. It was here at GVP that her transformation began. She changed from a quiet teen to one who participated enthusiastically in school activities. Ayat says she is really happy that she chose GVP. “One important thing I have learned at GVP is that we all can be leaders and I have learned to never stop dreaming.”

GVP’s mentoring program also helped her immensely. GVP mentors’ basic commitment is to help girls transition to high school and to meet with them at least twice a month. But many continue their mentoring beyond that, and Ayat’s mentor is no exception. Brenda Laughlin, her mentor, still tutors her.

“I love being a mentor to Ayat. She is an inspiration to me!” says Ms. Laughlin. “For example, when I asked her to think of a few fun things she would like to do this summer, she said that what she really wanted to do was to help homeless people.”

Ayat does not intend to stop with the website. She is already doing community service at her high school. As for her own career, she wants to become a pharmacist. She also wants to make American Red Cross available to people in need in other countries since her family was helped by the humanitarian organization.

Ayat has made everyone at the school proud of what she has done. It is no wonder that the Head of School in 2018, Dr. Amy Pelissaro, called her a “rock star” for demonstrating leadership qualities, adding, “She quickly turned around, and it was great to see her transform that way.”