Every student at Boston International High School is a new immigrant. All at once, they must become adults and become Americans. Their teachers impart lessons in tenacity. They learn courage by example, from each other. Meet Cassania Gilson and Leonal Peguero, two graduating seniors from a school where roaring rounds of applause are the norm. Both face incredible odds as they depart.
Cassania Gilson started avoiding questions about college this spring, her senior year. Tony King, academic director at Boston International High School in Dorchester, had found gentle ways to ask about her options, but Cassania responded with excuses to leave his office.
It wasn’t like her, King said. He worried over her future.
Cassania saw only one path to college: a full scholarship. So that’s what she tried for. Her mother works at a supermarket. They have no savings. Most important, Cassania is not eligible to apply for federal student aid because of her immigration status.
She left Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, and remains here under Temporary Protected Status, offered in 18-month increments to non-citizens who cannot safely return to their home countries.
When the ground began rolling beneath her in Port-au-Prince, Cassania was at home enjoying a telenovela. She’d just finished a game of basketball with friends, and her grandmother was aerating her school uniform in the dining room. Cassania got up and ran.
You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month
Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.
- High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
- Convenient access across all of your devices
- Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
- Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
- Less than 25¢ a week