2010 ERC Scholarship Essay Program $250 Recipient
Hana Mohamed, Seattle (Garfield High School)

In the early 1990’s my parents moved to the United States from Somalia. They left with the hope and dreams that their children would get a better education than the one that they had received. For most women in Somalia school was not an option. Most Somali people believe that girls are supposed to cook, clean, and one day get married. I am very grateful that my parents have seen beyond our cultural boundaries and have opened so many opportunities for me. In America I never experienced the feeling of being inferior to boys because I have grown up in a society where women have the same opportunities that men do.

Although I have received my entire education in America, I had a chance to visit Somalia and Djibouti in 2006. While in Somalia, I was surprised to see that a large portion of the youth had absolutely no education. My cousins there used to say to me, “Wow, you get to go to school” and “Wow, you’re so lucky.” This made me realize how great an opportunity that I have to get a quality education. I had previously taken education for granted, but my trip to Africa really made me realize me how valuable education is and that many people have no access to higher learning. My mother wanted me to grow up in America so that I could receive a good education and be the first person in my family to graduate from college. I feel motivated to try my hardest in order to get into college so that our dreams will come true.

My parents’ lack of education has tremendously impacted my own education. As a student, I never had anyone at home to help me with school work. My mother couldn’t help me because she didn’t even know her alphabet, and the highest education my father had was middle school. I feel like I had a much harder time and struggled a lot more than all the other students in class. However, I did not let this stop me. I was determined to do well in school despite my disadvantaged background. To address this, I attended tutoring programs twice a week to get help with my school work and put more hours into my studies. I know that I have opportunities that a lot of my family and others do not have in Somalia. I plan on working extra hard on my education, so that I can contribute to making education available to all people.

My intention is to pursue a degree in public relations. This would allow me to support my community in reducing violence, educating the community to decrease the number of high school drop outs, and financially helping families in need. This would also allow me to meet new people while also staying close to my community. My support should help new generations of young people from Somalia to achieve their own goals and dreams.