This year, we have a number of students graduating from high school, many of them being the first ones to do so in their family. We wanted to take a moment to focus on some of our seniors as they prepare to enter into a new phase of their life. First up is future soccer pro Gabriel.
As a child growing up in Malawi, Gabriel Lenge dreamed of playing professional soccer. Now, thanks to his time at White Station High School, that dream could become reality.
His first year on the team, they won the state championship, and Gabriel was named the best defender in the district. That year, his coach helped him to improve and finesse his skills. At the same time, his teachers and mentors encouraged him to pursue his studies, rather than focusing on one or the other like he had done in the past.
“In Malawi, I wasn’t good in school,” said Gabriel, 18. “I used to go to school, but when I got home, I just wanted to put the bag over there and go play soccer.”
Arriving in the U.S., however, Gabriel’s teachers and support system at World Relief Memphis urged him to pursue both his passions—math and soccer.
“A lot of people were telling me that school is important here,” said Gabriel, who will be attending Southwest Tennessee Community College in the fall. “My ESL (English as a second language) teacher helped me a lot, and he would give me advice.”
If he didn’t know who to turn to, his teachers at White Station were always there to help, whether it be finding a college counselor or working on his studies.
“If I struggled, they’d tell me to stay after school for tutoring and help me a lot,” he said. “Even now, if I need something I can just ask for their help.”
Now, Gabriel will be graduating in a month, and, thanks to the support of his teachers, coaches and mentors, he’ll be starting his degree in civil engineering in the fall, where he can combine his love for math and drawing as he designs public transportation. After that, he’ll be trying out for the local soccer team, Memphis 901 FC.
“Engineering is my plan B, if soccer doesn’t work out,” Gabriel explained. “Since I was a kid, I used to go with my father to play soccer.”
Eventually, he would like to make it all the way to Major League Soccer. But for now, he’s focusing on enjoying his last few weeks of high school before moving on to college.
“It was exciting, amazing, great. Sometimes, I think I’m going to miss it,” he said. “I’m excited to go to college.”
Gabriel, we are so proud of all that you have accomplished and wish you the best of luck as you start your time in college! We hope to see you on the 901 FC field in the future!
If you want to play a part in the lives of immigrant and refugee youth in the community like Gabriel, consider joining our Youth Mentoring Program! Start today by filling out your application.