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Refugee's journey inspires former LDS Church Service missionary to finish college

Published: Monday, May 13 2013 8:05 p.m. MDT

"It is the greatest of honors," Wylie said.

Recently, the two women celebrated their graduations together. Wylie tried her hand at a Sierra Leone dish, peanut butter chicken, which wasn't quite spicy enough for the Nahases, but they seasoned it with hot sauce.

The occasion, Nahas said, "was happy."

"We made it. And we made it together," Wylie said.

Both have benefited from their friendship. Wylie was there for Nahas when she needed help navigating her new life. Nahas opened Wylie's eyes to the prospect of completing her college degree.

"This is woman of the year," Wylie said of Nahas.

"No, you are, Amy," Nahas said.

"No, you are," Wylie replied.

Nahas has seven children, five sons and two daughters. Her eldest son is in the U.S. Air Force.

Nahas admits she had her doubts about coming to Utah. She knew a little about the United States, but she had hoped that she would be resettled in New York or Maryland because knew people who had settled there.

"I prayed to my God about it: Choose for me a place where my family will be safe and our lives will be better," she said.

The International Rescue Committee brought them to Utah. Her children are thriving, she said. Nine years after coming to Utah from a country frequently described as one of the most dangerous countries in the world, she is a proud graduate of the state's flagship institution. Her next plan? Graduate school.

"I'm not," going to graduate school, Wylie said. "Your inspiration is ending right now," she joked.

"America is the land of opportunity," Nahas insisted. "You're never too old to go to school."

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Opportunities to volunteer

For more information about opportunities to volunteer with refugees, contact Amy Wylie at the state Refugee Services Offices within the Department of Workforce Services, awylie@utah.gov or (801) 651-9025.

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com

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