It’s hard to imagine that Dayme Delgado ever struggled in school.
When the 18-year-old graduated from Mater Academy Charter High School last week, she had a 5.2 GPA and two associate degrees. In a few months, Dayme will head to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she has a full-ride scholarship and plans to study theoretical mathematics and aerospace engineering.
But when Dayme first started school in Hialeah, she didn’t understand a thing.
As the daughter of two Cuban immigrants, Dayme wasn’t exposed to English until she got to kindergarten. For the first three years of school, she was in classes for English-language learners.
“I remember being really, really frustrated because I didn’t really understand the different subjects,” Dayme recalled.
The only thing that made sense was math.
“Numbers are kind of their own language, so I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got this,’” she said.
It was also the only subject her parents could help her with. Dayme’s father had studied engineering in Cuba and her mother had studied computer science, but because they didn’t speak English when they first arrived in South Florida, they weren’t able to help Dayme with most of her homework.