One day after giving her valedictorian speech at Palm Beach Gardens High School, Sofiya Andreyva, her grandma, and her mother laugh when they look at what life used to be like.
"I remember it being one. Very cold," said Andreyva.
The beaches of Florida are obviously much different than the snow in Russia, the place her mother raised her until she was five-years-old.
"The condition was that we fled as Jewish refugees, so it wasn't an entire peaceful negotiation it was as if we were fleeing from the country," said Andreyva.
Fleeing for a better life but it wasn't easy.
"It was incredibly complicated. My mother and father split almost as soon as we arrived, so my mother and I were alone in the country. Neither of us spoke any English," said Andreyva.
Financially strapped, Sofiya's grandparents took care of Sofiya for her mother, Olga.
This meant grandma had to come out of retirement.
"I had to understand that I need to work to help to raise my granddaughter," said Lyudmila Soleolova.
Once Sofiya turned 10-years-old, roles reversed.
"As soon as I learned English I was the one who was responsible for taking them to doctor appointments, to dealing with how to get citizenship for them," said Andreyva.
"She was raising us," said Soleolova.
She was also amazing them, juggling part time work and school. Transforming from a poor immigrant girl to a valedictorian.
"I knew I could never fall back on my grandparents who are very old at this point and they have nothing left to give me. When you know that there's nothing to fall back on, when you know that there's nothing waiting for you if you give up but there's so much more that you can attain if you try hard," said Andreyva.
Now her hard work is taking her to NYU, where she'll study to be a trauma surgeon.
Continuing her pursuit of the American dream.
"I think that's pretty fitting. I've made the most of my opportunities in America," said Andreyva.
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