Somaya Albadani: Roots to Success

A recipient of the 2018-2019 MALA Scholarship Program.  In accordance with MALA’s mission, this program awards scholarships to individuals demonstrate ambition, integrity, and leadership through the art of storytelling.

A family trip to Yemen was exactly what my dad thought we needed to keep in touch with our roots. He always wanted us to remember where we came from no matter where we ended up in life. As I look back at my memories, that trip was an opportunity for me to explore an unknown land and go on adventures, as never before.

Being 11 years old, I couldn’t wait to run across the new land stretched before me and climb as many mountains as I could. Day after day, I became accustomed to the vastness of the land, the new people and their ways of life. I started to notice little things; kids walking barefoot, others walking around with mosquito bites, skin scabbed from years of scarring and untreated bites. There were others that were left to themselves and roam the streets all day and sought out new adventures on their own. The school goers would all meet and walk together as their parents left for work. Life in Yemen had a routine that I was bound to follow.

My stay in Yemen led me to consider becoming a pharmacist, but as I furthered my education, it turned into a full blown ambition. After returning home, I appreciated my life and my availability of everything even more. Being the oldest child to a set of immigrant parents was a big responsibility. They left Yemen right after I was born in search for freedom and better opportunities. Their language barrier had me take on multiple tasks. I became their personal translator, medical caretaker, personal alarm for medication reminders, as well as a positive role model to my younger siblings.

Even with all these extraneous obligations, I focused in school, maintained good grades, gave back to the community, and graduated as the salutatorian of my high school class. Fast forward a few years, I am now a year two Wayne State University pharmacy student and a mother to an 11-month old beautiful baby boy, Idrees. Growing up, my parents planted the love of knowledge in my heart, lightened my growth with care and encouragement to achieve more, and irrigated me with faith and hope. Their support has motivated me to seek knowledge even out of my borders.

I’ve always wanted to do better and to learn more, not to be first place, but to actually leave a legacy behind. Growing up in a small community has made my journey quite challenging. Not a lot of people look at education with an open mind, especially for a Yemeni Muslim mother and wife. A number of people have questioned my parents and husband on how they trust me enough to go to school and drive. Several others to this day still recommend that I drop out of school and focus on being a housewife and a mother. Others questioned my pregnancy during a rigorous program and believed that I wouldn’t be able to continue on. Continuously, I have people who doubt in me and try to discourage me, but, with Allah’s will, I am continuing stronger than ever.

Gratefully, my parents and husband still continue to believe in me and give me the strength to do what I believe is right. At this moment in my identity development I feel achieved. Because a good number of people are starting to see what my parents and husband see in me. A few parents have actually come up to mine and asked them on their parenting techniques because they want their daughters to be educated and independent. I am proud to say that today you will see a lot more females out on the road and enrolled in college. This can be seen as saving face by proving to my community that yes a young Muslim/Yemeni/female/daughter/mother/wife can still be out there in the world and succeed.

Nonetheless, I have a strong internal drive and passion in everything that I do. For that reason, I take everything as a blessing and nothing will stop me. Even with all the cultural and family demands, I plan to obtain a pharmacy degree and then improve the health and wellbeing of people. “And whoever saves a life, it is though he had saved all mankind” (Quran 5:32). This particular verse in the Quran strengthens my ambition and illuminates the path ahead of me in becoming successful pharmacist. It gives me that small push and inner light to continue when I feel listless in my endeavors.

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