Nurta Hade ’21 grew up in a Kenyan refugee camp, a Somali citizen whose family fled their war-torn country. She went to school in the camp, graduated from high school there, and served the camp as a translator, advocate for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, and a social worker helping other refugees get the resources they needed.
“I started young, working with people and helping people,” Hade said.
Twenty years and one new country later, helping people has become her formal career.
Hade will graduate from USM this spring with a Bachelor of Arts in Social and Behavioral Sciences degree with a concentration in social work — the first in her family to get a four-year degree. She plans to get her master’s in social work, also from USM.
“I can’t wait to practice, to become a licensed social worker,” she said.
Hade moved to the United States in 2009 and settled in Lewiston. She received her associate’s degree in Human Services from Central Maine Community College in Auburn in 2014 and enrolled in USM in 2019. Since her CMCC credits easily transferred, she didn’t have to start her college education from the beginning; Hade got her four-year degree from USM in two.
But while the degree will allow her to formalize her career as a social worker, Hade never stopped helping people.
She works for the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine as both an advocate for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and as a cultural broker — a Somali community liaison who can help long-time Mainers understand their new neighbors.
She works for the Auburn Public Schools as a translator and cultural broker.
And she’s an ambassador for TRIO Student Support Services, a USM program that helps first-generation college students, low-income students, and students with disabilities with academic plans, goals, and resources.
Hade was a TRIO student when she first arrived at USM and becoming an advisor felt like giving back.
“I love the TRIO Program,” she said. “In the Somali community, always people help each other. Like if I know some resources and I see another student, I will tell them, ‘Oh, this helped me!’ I know how TRIO helps students.”
Hade’s work won’t stop anytime soon. After earning a Master’s in Social Work at USM, she would like to work helping immigrants and refugees, as well as anyone who has been marginalized.
“I have a lot of experience in the field. Since I was young, I started working with people,” she said. “I cannot wait to practice, to get licensed as a social worker.”