Am I resourceful to my family, community and country? Is this level of education really helpful enough for me to reach my goals and dreams?

These are some of the questions Zamzam asked herself once she completed secondary school and in doing so. Originally from Somalia, she has been in Kakuma Refugee Camp since she was seven years old. It became clear that in order to be of assistance to those around her, she would need to pursue higher education.

When she joined the JWL Diploma in Liberal Studies programme (accredited by Regis University) Zamzam felt like she belonged. “Where I come from education for girls is not valued.” Although it wasn’t easy, Zamzam was among this summer’s Diploma graduates, the only young woman of her community (for this cohort) and the first young woman in her family to do so.

Zamzam is confident that programme has endowed her with the necessary training and strength to overcome obstacles she may face on her journey of service to her community. Out of Business, Social Work and Education, she chose Social Work as her concentration. “I want to help people the same way I was helped,” she says, recalling how the community welcomed and supported her and her family when they first arrived. Her formal education does not end here for in early August, she began the AA/BA programme through Southern New Hampshire University.

She has also been working on a book – and not just any book. It is an account of the challenges she has faced from early on, as a girl in pursuit of an education. Through this she hopes to inspire and motivate the many girls who were deprived of such opportunities. “I believe a today story is tomorrow’s aspiration.” Another project on her to-do list is setting up a YouTube through which she aims to share experiences of refugee life, also demonstrating the positive impact they have can, countering the existing perception that they are a burden.

Later this year, Zamzam will be among the over 1,000 persons in attendance at the UNLEASH innovation lab in Shenzhen, China, sharing insights and exploring ways of furthering the Sustainable Development Goals. Her focus will be on Sustainable Cities and Communities.