Ssafiyatou is navigating the demands of two worlds. She is 2nd in class of 70, takes college courses and is vice president of the student council. She was selected from 50 students across the state for a week-long national program on government and policy in Washington. “I truly believe,” one of her teachers wrote, “that she will be successful at any educational institution, because she is a lover of learning and one of the most dedicated students I have ever had the privilege to teach.” At home, Ssafiyatou wrote in an essay, “as the oldest child, I have taken care of my youngest siblings, I clean, and cook for them. I also assist them with their schoolwork.” Ssafiyatou is determined to find a balance between honoring the traditions of Malian culture and paving a way for new customs such as pursuing higher education. “Ssafiyatou is an immigrant student who has faced a lot of hardship in her life,” her teacher wrote, “but has never considered herself a victim or used her challenges as an excuse to give up. Instead, she has used those challenges as evidence that she can conquer anything she puts her mind to.” Her goal is to lift up marginalized communities by creating opportunities for healing and restoration. She has already started to do this through her role in a restorative justice club at school. Ssafiyatou’s aim is to become a social worker in a hospital setting.  

Ssafiyatou’s choice as her Teacher Who Made a Difference is Magda Aboulfadl. “She has always been there to listen to me and support me through everything I have been through. She is very caring and she has the biggest heart. She is always giving me advice and is always willing to talk to me even on times when she is supposed to be relaxing. She has supported me through this college journey and even took her time to accompany me to visit some of the colleges.”

Many thanks to Diane and Ron Blum for sponsoring Ssafiyatou through her college journey.