DAVIE, Fla. - There was an unexpected honor at last month's graduation ceremony for students at Broward College as the president of the college took a timeout to recognize graduate Lovely Lozin.
On Jan. 12, 2010, Lozin survived the catastrophic earthquake that struck Haiti.
"Lovely has turned tragedy into triumph," J. David Armstrong Jr. said. "This wonderful 23-year-old student and graduate became a U.S. citizen. Congratulations."
It's hard to imagine how Lozin manages to keep on smiling brightly, despite her story being filled with such darkness.
The massive earthquake decimated the country, claiming the lives of more than 200,000 Haitians.
Among the dead were many of Lozin's close friends and relatives.
"In the morning, we woke up and we go around to help people evacuate, and you had to see people’s limbs hanging out of a fallen building. It was so, so sad," Lozin said.
While it may be impossible to envision how a tragedy like this would do anything other than shatter a young person's spirit, Lozin summoned unimaginable strength and resilience and found inspiration in the rubble.
"I'm alive, thankfully, so just try to keep moving forward and see the big picture," she said.
It may have been too late for Lozin to help her loved ones, but she vowed to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse and helping others in need.
Lozin was one of thousands of Haitians who were granted temporary protected status, allowing her to live and work in the U.S. because of the dangerous conditions in her native country as of a result of the earthquake.
Since arriving in the U.S. in 2013, Lozin has learned English and Spanish.
"Of course, she was one of my very best students," Claudia Sahagun said. "She never missed a class."
Lozin has earned a nursing degree and has even become a U.S. citizen, which is why she was so angry when President Donald Trump announced in November that he would be ending the TPS program, which will result in the deportation of thousands of Haitians who came to the U.S., like Lozin, to pursue the American dream.
"To take that away from them is like taking away their whole dream," Lozin said.
Despite Trump's decision, Lozin feels grateful for the opportunities this country has given her.
This spring, Lozin will be enlisting as a nurse in the U.S. Air Force.
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