Soraya, of Gainesville, Florida, attended Miami-Dade Community College. She comes from a family of six children, four of whom are deaf or hard of hearing, with a single mother. Her hearing loss was diagnosed while she was in third grade, and she's dedicated her life to succeeding in spite of it. Initially she was mainstreamed, but spent her last two years in high school at the Florida School for the Deaf with her siblings.
Soraya was described by one of her teachers there as having "overcome tremendous odds...with grace and dignity", and being "the kind of student that every teacher dreams of having." She was on her high school's honor roll and maintained a straight A average in her senior year.
In addition to her studies, Soraya was involved in numerous extracurricular activities at the Florida School for the Deaf. She was a member of her school's traveling/performing dance troupe, which had a very demanding rehearsal and performance schedule. She was third place winner of the school's annual writing exposition as well as first place winner of the Communications Contest for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing held by the Optimist Club. All this was done while working four part-time jobs, including being a teacher's aid at her school, to help her mother cover the family's living expenses.