SPRINGDALE (KFSM) — "I was born in the Marshall Islands, but we have a right to be here because of the bombing that happened."
Alvin Hiram is well aware of the history between the United States and the Marshall Islands. Many immigrants came to America following nuclear testing, after the United States dropped 67 atomic or hydrogen bombs between 1946 and 1958.
Now Springdale has the largest Marshallese population outside of the Marshall Islands. So following an aunt and uncle, Alvin Hiram and his family emigrated to Springdale in 2005.
From the moment we met him, just a very gracious, kind hearted, servant led child," Sonora Elementary School principal Regina Stewman said.
Alvin was then diagnosed with leukemia in fifth grade on Christmas Eve, and it took five years to beat the disease.
"For a while, he couldn’t go to school, he was homebound," said Deanna Self, Alvin's former English as a Second Language teacher at Lee Elementary School "And I was his homebound tutor."
"I had a lot of nurses come into my room day and night, and they’ve been with me all the way," Alvin recalled. "I want to become just like them because I want to help these kids that were just like me."
Alvin’s experience with cancer filled his head with dreams of going to medical school. But not having U.S. citizenship has made that process a lot tougher.
"Because I was born over there in the Islands, I can’t get federal loans," Hiram noted.
"He went, and he met with financial aid, and he came back, and I saw a very deflated young man," added Stewman.
So the principal, Hiram's current co-worker at Sonora Elementary set up a GoFundMe page on December 8.
"And it truly is my Christmas wish this year that that’s fully funded and that on January 7th, Alvin is sitting at class at Blue Cliff College ready to start his degree," smiled Stewman.
Until then, Alvin continues his work as a parent liaison at two elementary schools in Springdale, working closely with both parents and being a mentor to kids.
To read Alvin's full story, check out his GoFundMe page.