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VIDEO: Scholarship Winner Left Jamaica at Age 8; Wants to Work With Mentally-Challenged Teens

Framingham High graduate and Framingham State University student was the recipient of the MetroWest Women's Alliance Camilla Hilbert Scholarship.

At the age of 8, Tiana Graham left her father and the only country she had ever known.

Today, the Jamaican-born Framingham resident Tiana Graham was awarded the MetroWest Women's Alliance Camilla Hilbert Scholarship.

The MetroWest Women’s Alliance, an initiative of the United Way of Tri-County and the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce, along with Framingham State University funds two MetroWest Women’s Alliance Camilla Hilbert Scholarships. These full scholarships are given annually to two women, who will attend Framingham State University, and who are immigrants or daughters of immigrants.

Graham, a graduate of Framingham High, is one of the 2012 recipients. She is a member of the class of 2013 at Framingham State.

Graham spoke at 2nd Annual Ruby Slippers Gala about her struggles and how grateful she was to receive the award, as it will help her pay her mounting college bills.

One of the major challenges Graham faced in her new country was her mother's health. Her mom's kidney disease meant she needed daily dialysis treatments, which put a financial strain on the family.

Despite the financial struggles, the Framingham High graduate enrolled at MassBay Community College to obtain an associate's degree. Not wanting loans, some semesters she was forced to take the entire semester off, as she was unable to pay her tuition.

Deciding she wanted to major in business administration and sociology with a concentration on human services, Graham transferred to Framingham State.

Graham is employed by Youth & Family Services, where she works with girls ages 13-18. This work has changed her goal of working with domestic abuse women and families to working with mentally-challenged teens.

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