Ali, Abdullahi excelling at U of M

This is the image for the news article titled

Nimo Ali and Katra Abdullahi met and became friends in fourth grade in the fall of 2009. Nimo recognized Katra from their church group and the girls began playing together on the playground at Lincoln Elementary.

Eight years later, as they prepared to enter college, both sat at their laptops until midnight waiting for Dell to announce the winners of its $20,000 scholarship program. Katra had fallen asleep when Nimo called and told her to look at the Dell website. Both of their names were on the nationwide list of 500 scholarship recipients.

“No one from our school had ever won it. We couldn’t believe it,” Ali said.

“Once Nimo called I freaked out and I couldn’t sleep,” Abdullahi said.

Ali and Abdullahi graduated from Faribault High School in 2018. Thanks to the Dell Scholarship and other scholarships and grants they received, both students were able to enroll at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis last fall. Abdullahi earned a 3.8 grade-point average her first semester and Ali a 3.5. Both students are involved in several campus clubs and organizations that allow them to volunteer, organize events and get to know people.

“The first time we met we just formed a bond,” Ali said. “Ever since then we’ve grown together.”

Abdullahi and Nimo were both born in Kenya. Abdullahi was born in a refugee camp and came to Faribault in 2005. Ali traveled with her family from Kenya to Minneapolis when she was eight months old, and moved to Faribault when she was eight years old. Abdullahi said coming to the United States at such an early age helped her adapt to the culture.

“I think I got lucky because I was able to pick up the language and be enrolled in school,” she said. “I was in the Community Education program in elementary school and into middle school and that helped me meet other students. It was so diverse and that helped me feel like I wasn’t alone.”

For Ali, it was an adjustment moving from Minneapolis to Faribault where there was a much smaller Somali community.

“Katra and I and two other kids were the only Somali kids in elementary school,” she said. “Then in middle school all the grades combined and I joined the after-school programs based on making connections with other students and that really helped.”

At Faribault High School, both continued to be heavily involved in student activities as members of STOPS (Students Together Offering Peer Support), CAST (College Ambitions Start Today) and Link Crew, a program that works with incoming ninth-graders to familiarize them with high school. Ali volunteered for Big Brothers, Big Sisters and was a member of the science team, and Abdullahi was a member of the National Honor Society and student council.

Ali and Abdullahi also participated in the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program. Faribault AVID’s mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society. Both described the program as feeling like a family.

“Academically, the biggest help I had was AVID. It has helped me take on a lot of obstacles, and given me academic and life support,” Abdullahi said. “My AVID family was there for me through anything life threw at me.”

Abdullahi said her AVID teachers are also the main reason she was so well-prepared for college. They helped her set up her schedule, create a four-year plan, and research what organizations she might want to join.

AVID also helped both students apply for scholarships and colleges, gave them time to work on applications, and assisted with gathering transcripts and other documents. Ali didn’t even know about the Dell Scholarship until an AVID teacher told her about it during her senior year.

“No one from our school had ever won it, but Miss Johnson said I should apply. We went through the whole process with our AVID family,” Ali said. “When we got it, I was so shook I didn’t know how to react. We celebrated and everyone was so happy for us.”

Two more Faribault students are among the semifinalists for this year’s Dell Scholarships.

“It makes me proud that we inspired them,” Ali said. “It makes us feel like we’ve made an impact on the rest of the classes.”

Abdullahi and Ali continue to get support through the Dell Scholars program. In addition to the yearly check for $5,000, Dell provides its scholarship recipients with a laptop, as well as academic support and check-ups, and sets standards that students have to meet to retain their scholarship.

To qualify for the Dell Scholarship, students must participate in a program-approved college readiness program in grades 11 and 12 (AVID), plan to enroll full-time in an accredited higher education institution in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in the fall directly following high school graduation, be eligible to receive a federal Pell Grant in their first year of college, demonstrate a need for financial assistance, earn a minimum GPA of 2.4, and be on track to graduate from an accredited high school in the current academic year.

Completing the online application is the first step to becoming a Dell Scholar. Once submitted, all applications will be assessed, and a group of Dell Scholar semifinalists will be selected. Semifinalists are asked to submit a current copy of their high school transcript, a compete Student Aid Report from their FAFSA, and an online recommendation. After the semifinalist information is submitted, all information is reviewed by an independent selection committee.

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2019 West Corporation. All rights reserved.