The Exchange Club of Albany presented a very special high school senior with the ACE (Accepting the Challenge of Excellence) award and a $500 scholarship at their meeting Friday afternoon.
This award goes to a graduating senior who has overcome adversity, obstacles, and challenges throughout their lives and still managed to make it through school successfully. Deborah Igbalhaopi, from Albany High School, was this years recipient.
Igbalhaopi was born in Nigeria, and her challenges began at the age of one when her mother passed away. Igbalhaopi says she went to live with an aunt who worked long hours and wasn't always able to take care of her and her siblings. Igbalhaopi says she was forced to grow up at such a young age, which wasn't easy.
Eventually Igbalhaopi was taken in by her Aunt and Uncle here in Albany, who she now considers her parents. She says after she moved in with them she finally felt like she had a home and had people that cared about her.
While school would be the last thing on most people's mind in her situation, she knew how important it was to finish school and make a better life for herself. Igbalhaopi hopes to go to school to become a nurse and then join the National Guard.