"I came here two years ago." Nethanji is an immigrant from Sri Lanka. "When I came to the United States I was so scared I didn't talk to anyone I was really scared. Clothes, languages, social life all, that it's totally different," Nethanji said.
Her goal, however, has always been the same. "To go to college." That's where the Academic Decathlon team came in.
"It gave her a family of students to belong to, they took her in when she didn't have anybody," Academic Decathlon Coach, Gary Fortenberry said.
While studying for competitions, Nethanji found a friend with a familiar story.
"We connected on a very cultural level. We both had parents that work so much and understand each others background," Ngoc Lam, a graduating senior at Monterey High School, said.
A friend that had to overcome the same challenges. "I'm from Vietnam, my family immigrated over here when I was seven years old," Ngoc said.
Now best friends, two young women whose lives began half a world away find themselves walking across the same stage of life... looking forward to a future made possible through sacrifice.
"I definitely look up to my parents," Lam said.
"My parents got jobs, but they were thinking about our education." Nethanji said.