ATLANTA -- Saya Ahmed's life began in Iraq under dictator Saddam Hussein. Because of the challenges her family faced there, she devotes her life to helping other kids who've escaped oppression in the world.
The recent Druid Hills High School graduate spends her free time volunteering with Refugee Family Services, "helping these kids that are so amazing and from such tough situations," she said. "Tougher than I was from."
Saya lived in Iraq until she was 3 years old, when tragedy struck.
"My uncle was executed by Saddam Hussein and after that my mom really didn't feel safe there anymore," Saya said. Her mom received political asylum for the two of them in the U.S. and carved out a life for them in Atlanta.
"(Since Saya) is a political refugee herself, helping those parents and children out just seemed natural to her," her high school counselor Rebecca England said.
Saya also volunteers with MedShare, a nonprofit that collects surplus medical supplies from area hospitals and manufacturers and re-packages them.
"They tailor them specifically to what a clinic in Uganda might need or a clinic in Guatemala might need," Saya said.
At Druid Hills, Saya immersed herself not only academics, but in nearly every aspect of the school. She was president of the student council, student body, Model U.N., Amnesty International. She was secretary of the National Beta Club and National Honors Society.
"Oh, and I was golf captain for a little bit," Saya said.
"She is a go-getter," England said. "She is not content to just sit on the sidelines and watch whatever pass her by. She wants to get involved and make a difference."