I’m excited to be part of the Wallin Education Partners (Wallin EP) family once again. As an alum, I can attest to the importance of both the financial and advising support that Wallin EP Scholars receive and how much of an impact this organization has on students, their families, and the community at large. I come from a Somali immigrant family that placed
a high value on graduating from college. My parents fled Somalia during the civil war and came to this country with the hope that their children would be able to flourish and have rich, fulfilling lives that were full of opportunity. They worked two jobs at times and still found time to take us to tutoring, so we didn’t fall behind our peers. Their sacrifices and dedication to the educational experience of my siblings and I served as a huge motivator for me to take my education seriously.
In my sophomore year at Washburn High School, I joined Educational Talent Search (ETS) where I learned about the college application process and went on several campus visits. While I didn’t have a concrete plan for how I would fund college, there was no doubt in my mind I would be going to a four-year college after I graduated from high school. During my high school experience, I pushed myself to excel academically, give back to the community, and take advantage of the different opportunities that came my way. So, when my counselor told me about the Wallin Scholarship, I knew I had to apply. Being selected as a Wallin EP Scholar was a huge moment for both my family and me. Financially, I no longer had to worry about paying for school and could focus on taking full advantage of my college experience. Personally, receiving the Wallin EP Scholarship felt like an acknowledgment of my hard work and it was motivating to know that I had someone else who believed in me and my ability to succeed.
Through the support of Wallin Education Partners, I was able to graduate from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a double major in Global Studies and Political Science. My college journey took five years, and I was both proud and thankful to graduate with very little student debt. In staying an additional year, I was able to complete a social justice minor and try my hand at a graduate-level course on Racial Inequality and Public Policy which piqued my interest in public policy. I also benefitted from the advising aspect of this program. My advisers encouraged, challenged, and supported me throughout my college experience. They were my cheerleaders when I was applying for a competitive, national fellowship (which I won, thanks to their support and revisions!) and they helped me strike a balance between my academics and being a student leader on campus.
After graduating, I spent six years at College Possible supporting low-income and first-generation college students in attaining their degrees. As someone who benefitted from organizations like ETS and Wallin Education Partners, it is so crucial for me to help students remove obstacles that make it challenging for them to persist or graduate. I’m excited to give back to this incredible organization that invested in me, and I look forward to advising our future doctors, artists, engineers, social workers, and teachers.