Daniel Young is ready to give back to a country that has given him so many opportunities to grow and thrive.
"It's been an amazing experience," said Young, who came to live in the United States when he was 15.
Since that time, the Arlington High School senior has learned English, played high school sports, learned the ins-and-outs of the high school social scene, enjoyed classes, such as business and English, and become a part of a new family.
On May 19, he'll add high school graduate to his list of accomplishments.
Daniel, who was urged to come to United States by his uncle — now adopted father — Luis Young, is one of 44 students who will receive diplomas during Sunday's 1 p.m. ceremony at AHS.
He'll then begin a new challenge in life, as he likes to call it, and prepare for basic training in the United States Air Force in San Antonio, Texas. His report date for basic training has not been finalized, but he expects he will report within two months.
Daniel wanted to join the Air Force not only to give back to his country, but also because of the benefits it provides. Though a scary decision at first, Daniel said he's comfortable with his choice.
"Like everything, there is a risk," he said. "But, I'm a pretty outgoing person and I love a challenge and I like to see new places."
Before making his final decision, Daniel sat down and made a list of the pros and cons. In the end, the education, medical and possible retirement benefits on his pro list outweighed any cons.
The Air Force, he said, can also prepare him for a number of careers. Daniel said he could become an electrician, but he's also eyeing a career in the criminal justice field. He said maybe one day he can work for the FBI.
Luis also touted the benefits a military career could give Daniel when the two discussed his post-high school plans.
"He will learn how to work with other guys, discipline, how to be responsible and be a good person," Luis said. "I told him 'This is one opportunity in your life.'"
Daniel knows a thing or two about taking opportunities that are presented to him.
Despite not knowing English, at 15, Daniel accepted an offer to move from Costa Rica to Nebraska to live with Luis, his wife Cathy, and their daughter, Milee. At first, he attended Fremont Public Schools because they had an English Language Learners program, but transferred to Arlington High School for his junior year.
Daniel said school is different in the United States.
"In Costa Rica, my main focus was being a student, getting good grades and don't get in trouble," he said. "
While those are still a focus, he said having opportunities to play sports or be part of clubs make the school experience different from Costa Rica. Daniel was a member of the football, track, swimming and basketball teams during his two years at AHS.
Though he's only been at the school a short time, Daniel has become a part of the Eagle family.
"They are nice people, wonderful people," he said. "They've given me opportunities and so, so many memories."
The journey hasn't always been easy, but Luis said his son has come a long way, especially with his English-speaking skills.
"I told him that if he wants to be successful, you have to be pretty determined to do this," said Luis, who came to the U.S. from Costa Rica more than 20 years ago. "This is a new language, a new way to think, a new way to say the words. I told him the only way to do that is by practicing and the more you practice, the better you will be."
Coming to a new country and learning a new language has made him more independent, Daniel said.
He's also appreciative.
His move to the U.S. also gave him new family members. Last year, Daniel became an official member of the Young family when his adoption was finalized.
"They have been really lovely to me," he said. "They opened their arms. It was like they knew me their whole life."