Monday, January 21st, 2019

People of USM: Hamdi Ahmed

Posted on November 12, 2016 in Community
By USM Free Press

By Muna Adan

In what is perhaps one of the most memorable commencement speeches, Steve Jobs gave Stanford University’s graduating class of 2005 simple yet thought-provoking advice: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards,” he said. “So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Hamdi Ahmed was born in war-torn Somalia in 1997. Her parents fled to neighboring Kenya when she was merely several days old to ensure the welfare of their family. Ahmed’s first recollections are from her time in Ifoone of five refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya. Early on, Ahmed was aware of the challenges that she faced.

“The education system there is so much different than it is here,” she explained. “Here, in secondary school, you are provided tutors, after school programs, and counseling services, but in the camp we were not provided that.”

As a child, Ahmed overcame her hopeless thoughts by envisioning what she could achieve if given an opportunity. That moment came when she immigrated to the United States with her family in 2005.

“When I came here, I made sure that I took full advantage of the education that was being provided to me,” she said. “I am thankful that I have been given this opportunity to relocate to the United States. I am able to achieve my dreams here.” Ahmed’s life would be disparate if she lived in the camp today. She would not be able to attend college, which is the source of her success.

Ahmed’s transition to the United States came with its own set of challenges. As a teenager, she juggled several jobs while attending school to make ends meet. Coming from a low-income household was a burden; she passed up opportunities so she could assist her parents in taking care of her family. Ahmed was unaware that her patience would soon pay off and that graduating high school would be the first step to a brighter future.

President Glenn Cummings invited Ahmed to join him at the University of Southern Maine’s 2016 Opening Breakfast on Thursday, August 25. Ahmed discussed her first year as a political science major at the University and stated that she wanted the opportunity to expand her horizons by increasing her knowledge base. Last year, Ahmed became a first-generation college student and plans to be the first in her family to obtain a bachelor’s degree.

In February, Ahmed attended the United Nations Youth Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. The conference was made possible by funding she received from the University of Southern Maine. She met with youth from around the world to discuss the implementation of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, where the goal is to end hunger, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all by 2030.

This experience opened her eyes to how she can help children who were born into similar circumstances. Ahmed aspires to end world hunger, solve conflicts and make the world a safer place for all. She learned that she can attain her goals through the United Nations.

Several years ago, Ahmed wondered why she was born into the strenuous situation that she was. Perhaps she has a better sense now. Ahmed could not connect the dots looking forward, but she can looking back.

She believes that her purpose in life is to leave the world in a better condition than it was when she came in. Today, she is a youth delegate for the United Nations; one day, Ahmed hopes to be an ambassador.

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