To support her sons, Raad spent each day as a preschool teacher in Over-the-Rhine, a nanny in the evening and, after some time, an interpreter for courts on lunch breaks. At night, she studied for a degree from Cincinnati State Technical Community College. On weekends, the whole crew would volunteer with Catholic Social Services or their church.
Once his mother had her degree, she got more involved in interpreting, moving from municipal court cases to hospital translations to federal trials. Ultimately, the courtroom had her heart. With $700 in her bank account, she used the last of the family’s money to pay for a ticket to D.C. and to take a test to become an interpreter for the U.S. Department of State. “If I passed the exam,” Raad said, “they were going to reimburse me. If I failed, they wouldn’t. So I told the boys, ‘If I’m going to fail, Mama’s going to come back walking.’” She passed.
By 2013, she was the only certified judiciary Arabic interpreter in the Midwest, and was picked by the U.S. Department of Defense to be the head interpreter of the 9/11 trials in Guantanamo Bay. While Abdelwahed was still finishing his degree at Walnut Hills High School, Raad spent almost one and a half years traveling back and forth from the trials. During this time, Abdelwahed’s older brothers looked after him and made sure he kept on track.
Influenced by his older brother Kamal, a 2016 Lindner College of Business graduate, Abdelwahed decided to pursue a degree in operations management at UC. He has co-oped at prestigious companies like Boeing, learning first-hand about business logistics.