Nasro Ali is a criminal justice major who was born in Somalia and lived there until she was 6 years old.
Do you remember Somalia at all?
What I remember is the food, my family and afternoon naps. The whole city – including all the shops and stores – would shut down so all the workers could go home to nap and eat lunch.
How do you think your background relates to your career choice?
Coming from a country where there is little or no law, you see a lot of injustice. Also, to see the older adult population displaced from their original culture or unable to reside in their own home at retirement age is upsetting. I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was 6 years old. Justice and finding that for others has become a passion of mine.
What’s been your experience as a Muslim in Maine?
Since 9/11, I have experienced some negative things about my race and religion. However, 99 percent of the time, everyone is caring and understanding. There will always be that 1 percent of the population that isn’t as cultured or educated. There was only one incident of that on this campus. St. Joe’s was amazing in dealing with the situation. I don’t let those experiences define who I am. I refuse to allow hate to live within me because I see that is what brought my country down. Choosing to come to St. Joe’s was not about the color or the religion of the campus. It was what it had to offer me academically. Also, I really feel that St. Joe’s does a great job about not imposing religion on the students.
What advice would you give other refugees about higher education in America?
My mother always told me it is possible to come to America and achieve the dream, but not without higher education. My mother is such an inspiration. She came to this country with nothing. She was unable to read, write, speak the language, and could not to drive. She supported herself and children without the help of many others. I want to be able to provide for her in her golden years for what she has done for me.
Where did you do your internship?
I worked at the Portland City District Court on civil cases, abuse and divorces. I was also able to sit in on an attempted murder trial. It has been amazing to see the different styles that lawyers use. Also, everyone is willing to help make sure you’re getting the right experiences. My judges were helping me with studying for the LSATs. Others at court incorporated a trial experience piece on foster care, because I am doing my senior research project on children in foster care.
What’s your favorite thing about St. Joe’s?
The professors here are amazing. They are personable, they want to see you succeed, and they are willing to help you seek out your goals. Not many schools can say students have those types of relationships with the professors. I’m looking for graduate schools that have the same student-professor relationships that St. Joe’s has offered me.