Khadija is a single mother currently preparing to enter Community College – she wrote her story to share with you.
Attending college is very important to me because I’m from Somalia. In Somalia, boys are educated until eighth grade — enough to know basic math, reading, and writing. However, girls are not allowed to attended school. Women are seen as simply made for cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children. Even though I moved to America as a small, child, my family brought these beliefs with them and did not encourage me to go to college.
When my family came to the United States in 1997, I was seven years old. I was excited because for the first time I would get the chance to attend school and make friends. Then, when I was in sixth grade, a terrible thing happened to me. My family arranged for me to be married to a man I looked up to as an uncle. I believe he was in his 30’s. I refused; there was no way I would get married to someone related to me. I was disgusted. After that, everything changed. I didn’t end up getting married and they couldn’t force me. However, my family told me I would have to find somewhere else to live because I had shamed them.
I moved into a homeless youth shelter called The Center for Youth in Rochester, New York. It was a nice place to be, but I lost sight of myself there. I began drinking with the older kids. I began to hate my life. I was so lonely and alone that I attempted suicide three times. I was sent to a hospital for evaluation, and after that sent back to live with my family. The situation at home was unhappy and my grades in school dropped from an all A student to a C and D student. I ran away a few times. Years passed by and I began living with my cousin; because I had a more supportive home life I did much better in school during my senior year. By then it was too late to get into to a university, but I did graduate from high school on time in 2008. I spent two years in New York City, not knowing where life would take me. Then I moved to Seattle and had a baby.
Now that I’m 21 years old I’m ready to attend school. I want to go to college because I want my son to have a bright future and I also want to have a better future for myself. SEA has helped me in so many ways. I’m now prepared to take my COMPASS test (the placement test at the community college) because SEA provided me with a great tutor. They also taught me how to apply for financial aid. I am grateful for their help.