19-year-old political science major Hamdia Ahmed is finding her voice - both as a student leader and as a leader in her community. Her story was featured recently on the front page of the Portland Press Herald's Maine Sunday Telegram.
Ahmed's story began during the brutal civil war in Somalia, the country where she was born in 1997. Her family fled to a refugee camp in nearby Kenya, where they spent the next several years, finally being allowed to immigrate to the US in 2005 after completing the arduous application process. She and her family are now US citizens.
Her family's experiences led her to an interest in studying political science at USM. She's the first of her family to attend college, and she has strong ambitions, hoping to attend law school, with a dream of someday getting a job at the United Nations.
That dream may is one step closer to being a reality, as she is speaking at the UN on behalf of Adopt A Future, a new program that provides resources for educating refugee children who reside in the camps.
Ahmed has also advocated for the immigrants in her home city of Portland. The recent anti-immigrant policies and viewpoints hold personal meaning for her, with several extended family members still awaiting visas to come to the US. She recently led the organization efforts for a rally at City Hall to support Portland's Muslim and immigrant community. Expecting perhaps 200-300 people, the peaceful rally attracted 1,500 supporters.
In the article, she was quoted as follows:
“It meant so much to me,” Ahmed said days later, reflecting on the rally. “It showed our community actually wants to come together and show solidarity with the Muslim community.”
“I want people to keep fighting against any kind of hate or injustice,” Ahmed said. “I want people to know I am an immigrant. I work hard every single day. And I want to make a change in the world.”
“(America) is the place that allows me to do it.”
To read the full feature story from Press Herald reporter Randy Billings, click here.