FROM AFRICAN HUTS TO FOOD STAMPS, TO HARVARD
I was born in a small village called Ande, in Oromia, East Africa, into a family with no educational background--my mother never went to school and my father has only a 4th grade level of education. I came to the United States at the age of 16 where I learned my first word of English. Here in America, I lived in a low-income government housing with food stamps as one of our main sources of income. I graduated from one of the lowest performing inner-city high school and I was considered an "at-risk" student. My first day of college experience felt like I was in a different world where everything seemed foreign. I spent most of my early freshman days questioning if I was a college material, if I had what it took to succeed, or if I even belonged there. I thought about dropping out on numerous occasions. But the thought of becoming another statistic kept me moving forward, one day at a time, one course at a time, and eventually, through grit and perseverance, I became the first in my family to earn my undergraduate degree and went on to also obtain my Master's degree from Harvard. Today, I'm on a mission to helping those whom I once resembled: the first-gen.
SHIFTING MINDSETS TO DEFY STATISTICS
Over the years, I have had the privilege of impacting the lives of thousands of first gen students, through my speaking and training, across hundreds of college/university campuses. As a first gen, I've experienced many of the struggles that the first gen students encounter on campus, and I have dedicated my life to helping them defy the statistics and reach their highest potential, one campus, one program, at a time.
"...It was definitely a day I will never forget, and I wanted to just thank you again..."
Trio SSS Student
University of Arizona
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