Young Somali woman goes from refugee camp to medical school in 5 years

Hodan Abdi, a Somalian who just five years ago was in an Ethiopian refugee camp now is about to graduate with a degree in chemistry from the the University of Utah and will be starting Medical school in August, studies outside the Marriott Library on the U. campus in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 22, 2018.
A Somalian woman, who arrived to the U.S. as a refugee five years ago speaking very little English, gave one of the graduation speeches at the University of Utah about how she earned a chemistry degree and got accepted to start medical school at the University of Minnesota.

It only took Hodan Abdi a day to write the speech for the university's Thursday commencement ceremony about the struggle she faced growing up in war-torn Somalia and the journey that led her to pursuing her dreams, the Deseret News reported .
Hodan Abdi, a Somalian who just five years ago was in an Ethiopian refugee camp now is about to graduate with a degree in chemistry from the the University of Utah and will be starting Medical school in August, studies outside the Marriott Library on the U. campus in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 22, 2018.
"I want to talk about how professors have helped me and how I will use my education," she said.

Before her May 3 graduation, Abdi remembered her life at a refugee camp in Ethiopia and cried as she thought about her friends, who although hardworking, do not have the same opportunities she does.
"School is everything," she said.
Abdi's family fled Somalia to get away from the dangers brought by its civil war.
Hodan Abdi, a Somalian who just five years ago was in an Ethiopian refugee camp now is about to graduate with a degree in chemistry from the the University of Utah and will be starting Medical school in August, studies outside the Marriott Library on the U. campus in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 22, 2018.
Rebels frequently targeted schools and universities, preventing Abdi from getting a formal education until she was 13.
But that didn't stop the young girl from studying Shakespeare, the Greeks and Isaac Newton at home when she wasn't busy talking care of her siblings and teaching herself English from reading books and watching American movies.

She was 18 when her family was granted a visa and moved to Utah.
Because she was too old to go to high school, Abdi got a job cleaning student housing at the University of Utah to help support her family.
It was there that she met Martha Archuleta, a mentor from Catholic Community Services, who encouraged her to pursue a GED diploma.
"Science and math were harder in the camp," she notes, "but I struggled with the reading."
She went on to study at Salt Lake Community College in 2013 and at the University of Utah in 2015.

Abdi's experiences watching her brother nearly die while trying to get medical attention for epilepsy and seeing the lack of doctors and medical facilities for refugees inspired her to become a doctor, she said.
After medical school, she said she hopes to work for the World Health Organization or Doctors Without Borders.


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