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Teen’s graduation day ends with thieves taking her gifts

<i>KPIX via CNN Newsource</i><br/>
KPIX via CNN Newsource

By Andrea Nakano

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    OAKLAND, California (KPIX) — It was a time of celebration as an Oakland teen and her family gathered on graduation day. But that celebration quickly turned to disappointment as a thief robbed the graduate of all her gifts and more.

Surijhyah Faar graduated from Envision Academy last Thursday. It was a difficult and long four years to finally get her diploma.

“Honestly, I had a lot of trouble where sometimes I did want to give up,” said Surijhyah Faar. “But honestly it was driving me to want to get out and make money for myself. To have a successful life.”

Surijhyah ended up graduating with a 3.8 GPA. Family and friends gave her gift cards and a money lei as presents, but it was all taken when her godmother’s car was bipped during the celebration dinner. Even her cap that she wore at graduation was stolen.

“I was shocked,” she said. “I was surprised because we were having such a good time and I just totally forgot about it. I was so caught up with being with my family, and when I came and saw that, I was like, ‘Wow.'”

Since then, Surijhyah has received an outpouring of support from the community, especially from her mentor Donald Lacy. Lacy started the LoveLife Foundation to help Oakland youth get away from a life of crime and violence after his 16-year-old daughter was shot and killed 27 years ago.

“While I lost one, I gained thousands, and I am rejuvenated. I am inspired by the brilliance of young people like Surijyah,” said Lacy.

To make up for her loss, Lacy’s LoveLife Foundation has raised roughly $700. He said it’s a testament of how Oakland comes together in times of need and fights back against the criminals that take from others.

“I’m a firm believer in karma, what goes around comes around,” he said. “It’s not going to end up, and I’m not wishing anything bad on anybody, but when you victimize people, let alone innocent, young Black woman who’s only done great in the community and never been in trouble. Unfortunately, that says something about your lack of upbringing.”

Surijhyah plans to go to Laney College in the fall. She won’t let the thieves rob her of the good memories of her graduation.

“I have no intention on thinking about the negatives,” she said. “I’m thinking about everybody who was there for me and all the people that supported me after.”

She hopes she can inspire others to work hard and find the kind of support system she found to succeed in life.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

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