How the 13th Year Scholarship Empowered Musa to Chase His Dream

This guest post was co-authored by Musa Abdi and Sarah Sabay, the Director of the TRiO College Access Programs at South Seattle College. Sarah added the following note: “I met Musa on his first day at South, and he asked if he can work in our TRIO student center. I asked him how long he had been in Seattle, and he told me he had only been in the US for 10 months. He became one of our most loved staff members and a great influence to our students.”

Musa Abdi spent the majority of his childhood in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya following his father’s death. Life was difficult in the camp which has been described as “equal parts prison and exile.”  Musa was aware of the daily toll that lack of medical care wrought – death during childbirth, improper use of medications, and death from treatable diseases such as malaria.

When Musa and his family immigrated to the United States in 2013, their lives improved in terms of physical amenities and access to health care but they struggled financially and emotionally.  Musa’s mother was a single parent in a foreign culture where she could not communicate or get a job. In a short time, she and her family were evicted because they could not afford the rent.

These hardships motivated Musa to work harder and to reach farther in his education.  Musa was not yet eligible for in-state tuition, but when he was awarded the 13th Year Scholarship he knew that college would be possible.  The scholarship provided him with a Work Study award so he could get a job on campus, so he joined the TRIO program and became one of their most popular tutors.

Musa also seized every opportunity to enhance his own education—participating in the 2015 Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) at University of Washington, Phi Theta Kappa, and South’s Ready, Set Transfer Program for STEM majors.  He also volunteers regularly in his community and on campus. In 2015, Musa’s academic achievement was recognized when he was selected for the All-Washington Academic Team.

Musa plans to become a pharmacist so that he will be able to relieve suffering and educate patients.  He will be able to provide for his family.  Musa’s response to adversity has been to strive to improve his own life as well as the lives of those who surround him.

Education has been his lifeline.  Musa notes, “I loved school so much from a young age. I was very dedicated to my studies. I never wasted my time; these habits became part of my life and to this date education is still my first priority.”

Musa is currently enrolled in the UW’s Public Health Major and is a recipient of the Martin Achievement Award Scholarship.  He has been accepted to the PharmD program at WSU, where he will continue on his path to becoming a Pharmacist.