The award, sponsored by the AICPA, is bestowed upon a student who has experienced extreme hardships in his or her life and who has demonstrated an unusually high level of success despite that adversity. The award includes a $5,000 cash stipend.
In midst of the early years of the Somali Civil War, Abdullahi’s family fled to seek refuge in the neighboring country of Kenya. They settled in the United Nations refugee camp, Dadaab, where Abdullahi remained until his college years. Life in the camp, which was the largest refugee settlement in the world at the time, was extremely bleak and full of hardships. Despite of the significant challenges he endured at the camps, Abdullahi gave back to his community by coordinating youth engagement activities, speaking against female genital mutilation, and volunteering with HIV/AIDS awareness programs.
He was eventually was granted the opportunity to relocate to the United States as part of a resettlement program. Life in the U.S. also came with its own difficulties as he missed his loved ones back home. However, Abdullahi’s volition to serve continued and he quickly became an advocate for his fellow immigrants.
“Despite the challenges I have faced, I have always remained optimistic that I would reach my goal of receiving an education,” Abdullahi said. “The United States has truly been the land of opportunity for me and I am grateful for the chance to go attend college, and I look forward to entering the accounting profession.”
He enrolled in the University of Memphis where he majored in accounting. While at UofM, he worked with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteering to provide FREE Income Tax Preparation Assistance to low-income, elderly, disabled, and limited English speaking people. Through the Beta Alpha Psi Chapter, he tutored and performed other volunteer work while supporting his family.
“Working with the people in my community – regardless of where that community is located – is very important to me. Make a positive impact on the lives of those around me brings me a sense of belonging,” Abdullahi added.
Abdullahi is a graduate of the University of Memphis with a B.S. in Accounting. His goal is to make those who have invested in his success proud by continuing his education on a graduate level and eventually earning his CPA license.