Embracing opportunity in America


Sarah Metzel

Senior Rasel Abutaa, also known as the doughnut guy, drives a hard bargain by selling his pastries for $2.

Imagine a life without school. That coveted fantasy of sleeping in late and doing whatever you want sounds amazing… right? You might want to rethink that dream.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average income a high school dropout can expect to earn is $20,241. Someone with a high school diploma only earns about $10,000 more than that. Comparatively, a college graduate earns a great deal more – with an average income of over $56,000 a year.

In the U.S., we’re extremely lucky that everyone is entitled to receive a free, public education, paid for by the government. Although sometimes it might seems like the perfect solution to all the hours of stressful homework, dropping out of a free education is a cop out.

Education is not cheap in every country. We may think that paying for college is expensive here, but in many countries a bachelors degree is a luxury that most families cannot afford.

In America, it is expected that high school seniors will go on to college after they graduate. In Palestine, the average income is significantly less than in America. This makes life harder in several ways, but especially when looking to pursue higher education.

Senior Rasel Abutaa immigrated to the United States from Palestine when he was in kindergarten. His migration across continents opened up many opportunities for him and his family.

“I would feel horrible if I couldn’t receive an education,” said Abutaa. “Education is the primary way to advance in life.”

Abutaa takes his education very seriously and is applying to several Ivy League schools.

“If America didn’t offer education to immigrants, they would pretty much be telling an entire generation that you can’t go any further in life, you’re stuck where you are,” said Abutaa. “That would go against everything America stands for, such as the self-made man who starts from scratch and makes a name for himself in the world.”

Like so many ambitious Americans before him, Abutaa is out to make a name for himself. He is known to many people as the guy who walks through the hallways selling doughnuts for two dollars a piece.

Abutaa inherited the entrepreneurial spirit from his parents.

“I was inspired to be a businessman by my parents,” said Abutaa. “After moving from Palestine, they decided to start their own restaurant. So I’ve always had the influence of that small-business in my life.”

Abutaa is also motivated to succeed by the life stories of his parents and their struggles as immigrants to America.

“The biggest reason they came to America was more financial stability and better education. They want their kids to have a better life than they did. Everything I do, I’ve always had that in mind when I do it,” said Abutaa.

“So by starting my own business, I can not only increase my chances of getting into a good college but I can make more money and make my family’s life easier.”

The motto of Abutaa’s business is “Everything Rasel. Where everything’s a deal!” Every morning, he leaves the house at 6:20 to make his daily doughnut run to Shoppers. Throughout the day, he dutifully carries around four dozen doughnuts: selling them to students, teachers and administrators. On good days, he is left with four empty doughnut boxes and he a profit of around seventy dollars.

He even went through the process of registering his business with the state of Virginia. Abutaa glows with pride as he shows me his Virginia state tax form on his phone.

“I’ve always liked making money. And by legalizing my business, I was able to legitimize it in the eyes of my peers. People would ask me ‘What are you selling doughnuts for?’’and I would say, ‘I have a legal business with the state of Virginia.'”’”

There are not many countries where a seventeen-year-old can receive a free education, drive his own car, start his own business and make a substantial profit every day.

On top of all this, Abutaa is applying to some of the best schools in the world, such as Harvard and Yale. He is looking forward to the future with ambitious goals and an open mind.

“”I literally want to do everything, that’s the problem. I want to start a business, be successful, and then use the profits from that to explore all my other interests.””

Living and learning in America, Abutaa has the opportunity to honor his family, achieve his dreams, and make a name for himself in the world.

I guess it’s true what they say: stay in school, kids.