Buy now! - Learn more about Abaarso's extraordinary story in Abaarso Founder, Jonathan Starr's, new book "It Takes A School"
Lasting change will need to come from the Somali people. So, to truly contribute to societal change, we must prepare the Somali children of today to become the exemplary Somali leaders of tomorrow.
Forging a path for the girls of tomorrow…
Nadira Abdilahi did not grow up assuming that she would get an education. Her mother had never learned to read and Nadira, like many of her peers, assumed that she would be married shortly after junior high or high school.
But that all changed when her older sister, Fadumo, engaged in a hunger strike to convince her parents to let her attend Abaarso. And one year later, Nadira followed suit, secretly taking the admissions exam and getting accepted too. She studied relentlessly and received a scholarship to the Westminster boarding school, where she took 6 Advanced Placement classes and became possibly the 1st female born and raised in Somaliland/Somalia to ever get accepted to an Ivy League university.
Now at Yale, Nadira plans to study economics. “I left home to access better education, so I can make a difference in the lives of Somali girls and help Somali women create their own companies…I envision a Somali society where talented women like my mom will have access to higher education, and I will sacrifice and do whatever it takes to make that dream a reality.”
From herding camels to engineering at MIT…
Mubarik Mohamoud grew up in a nomadic family herding goats and camels on the border of Somalia and Ethiopia. When he was 10, he hid in the back of a truck for 3 days to escape the refugee camp where the rest of his family remained so that he could attend school in the big city.
Although essentially “homeless” after the death of his grandmother, he persevered at public school and gained admission to Abaarso in 9th grade by scoring well on its admissions exam, even though he spoke virtually no English. Although soft-spoken and mild mannered, Mubarik’s natural gifts and tenacity shone through and he quickly rose to the top of his class and subsequently became the first Abaarso student to attend an American boarding school.
At Worcester Academy, Mubarik excelled in his academics, earning a perfect “5” on his AP Calculus test, and received a full scholarship to MIT, where he is now majoring in electrical engineering and computer science. After MIT, Mubarik hopes to make a lasting difference in Somaliland by “leveraging my studies to revolutionize the way we educate our children and building technologies that can change how we buy and sell products to create jobs for the Somali people.”
Dreaming of one day leading a nation…
Born to a family of 18 brothers and sisters, Abdisamad Aden was raised by his grandmother in Hargeisa, Somaliland with no electricity or indoor plumbing. Although he spent an average of 2 hours a day getting water and had to study by candlelight, he still managed to perform well in school, eventually earning the 2nd highest score in the country on the 8th grade national exam and a spot at Abaarso.
After 3 years of hard work at Abaarso, Abdisamad became an ASSIST Scholar at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, NY, and was eventually accepted into Harvard University as a freshman in 2015. Reflecting the national pride in his accomplishments, Abdisamad was even invited to meet with the President of Somaliland before leaving for college.
Now studying economics, Abdisamad plans to eventually come back to Somaliland to work with young people and then possibly explore his childhood dream of one day leading his nation. “I am looking forward to being part of a present that builds a future far better than the past for my country and for the world.”