My name is Najma Hasan and I am proud to be a student in the prestigious nursing program at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. It is a challenging program, but I am working very hard. Today, I know my future is bright. But it didn't always look so bright. In fact, when I started out in this world, it didn't look very bright at all. I was born in 1989 in Somalia, a very dangerous country. The civil war was just beginning. I lost many family members, including my father, to the violence. Growing up, my mother feared for my safety. In 2007, as the oldest girl, I was chosen to leave the family – to find a better place for us, send home money, and eventually bring my family to safety. My mother literally sold everything she had to get me out. That might seem like the end of the journey - right? But it wasn't - as a refugee you can't come straight to the U.S. So, I spent five years in Thailand, working through the refugee status with the United Nations and waiting to be placed in a new country. Since Thailand does not recognize refugees, I was not allowed to work or go to school and there was constant fear of arrest by the immigration police. I lived in a small apartment with five other girls, volunteered at the refuge center, and waited. And waited. At the refugee center I met a wonderful woman named Becky. She lived in America - in North Carolina. She spent some time volunteering at the clinic and I helped interpret for her. We connected and stayed in touch.
Then, in November 2012, I was happy to learn I was being placed in America. In part, because USA is the land of opportunity - and because I knew Becky. Becky used to tell me that I should come live with her if I came to America. I didn't know she was truly serious until she contacted the state department and told them I could live with her. Becky has been an inspiration to me in so many ways, not only did she take me into her home – she truly has made me a part of her family. Becky is a caring, loving person. She also happens to be a nurse. I bet you can see where this is going. She loves being a nurse, and I knew I would, too. But that was also easier said than done. I had no high school diploma and obviously English wasn't my first language. I worried about how I would get into nursing school! I can tell you that I have worked very hard since arriving here in America. I earned my GED. And then I took the nursing entrance exams... Twice before I was able to earn the necessary scores. As you can imagine, the most important thing in my life, of course, is helping my family. People often tell me that I am very positive, considering all I have been through. But I am here and I am able to provide for my family with my part-time job and thanks to scholarships I have received through the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Foundation.
Thanks to all of this support, I will graduate in May with my associate degree in nursing. It is also my hope that I will be able to eventually bring my family here, for that is my true goal.