Somali refugee Arli Mohamed says “I kept striving for the best.”
Arli Mohamed graduates from MPS’ Riverside University High School in June. She recalls arriving in the U.S. nine years ago from Somali, unable to understand English. She learned the language, worked hard, and has become a Riverside honor student, with a 3.81 Grade Point Average. Her attendance rate is 98.7%. At Riverside, Arli participates in the National Honor Society and the Student Council. She participates in the YMCA Sponsor A Scholar Program and UWM’s Talent Search and Upward Bound Math and Science Programs. She says that if she could thank anyone for her performance in school and beyond, it would be the staff and tutors in these pre-college programs.
Here is Arli’s story, in her own words.
I am determined to obtain a college education because I want to acquire a better life for myself. My aunt and uncle, who I consider my parents, did not attend a decent school except for learning their native language. I came from Somalia to the United States on December 11, 2003 with my aunt and uncle and their six children. Our lives changed when a generous woman sponsored my family. Our sponsor immediately enrolled us in school. She found a job for my uncle and enrolled my aunt in an ESL class. I want to attend college so that I can get a job that I enjoy to support myself and my family, be a role model, and make my parents proud. Education is a great priority in my family, so the decision to attend college is not a question.
My family wanted to come to the United States for a better life but it was not simple. We waited with patience for at least ten years while living an arduous life. The number one reason why my parents were so interested in coming to the U.S. was to get their children educated. My parents value education dearly, and they want us to complete enough to become strong, intelligent and independent individuals.
When I started school, I was placed in 6th grade based on my age. My first day of school was perplexing. I was in a class of students of unfamiliar faces. I often felt guilt, because I could not speak efficiently with those students who wanted to help me. Some students played pranks on me every day, but I did not let them disturb me.
I put my best effort forward in school and studied every day. I was anxious to learn English, and was stressed to the point of depression. I went without eating or drinking properly for weeks. I was always in my room, which I shared with my two cousins, doing my homework. When at school, I wrote down common sayings like “could you help me?” Eventually, I was elated when my English improved, which helped me open up to others.
I kept striving for the best and getting my homework done on time. I got all A’s on my tests and homework, and stayed on top of the school honor roll. My peers were surprised at my rapid, competitive success. Because of my hard work, I graduated as the valedictorian of my middle school. I still continue my hard work and have been on the high honor roll. I currently have a 3.81 GPA. It makes me happy when I see how proud my parents are and enjoy helping translate for them. I serve as a role model to my siblings because my cousins want to be as determined and successful as I am. They come to me for help with their homework.
Arli Mohamed’s friends, relatives and sponsor will be in the auditorium when she graduates. Arli’s goal is to obtain a degree in Criminal Laboratory Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. We wish her all the best.