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Thursday, December 1, 2016

COE Student Works to Empower Muslims Locally and Abroad

Mohamed Ahmed in Somalia
He’s helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to combat famine in East Africa and build a school in Somalia.

He is the leader of a non-profit organization and is working with San Diego State University to address Muslim student concerns on campus.

He is Mohamed Ahmed, a Somalia refugee who is pursuing his master’s degree in Postsecondary Educational Leadership in SDSU’s College of Education.

Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Ahmed moved to San Diego in 1995. He grew up in City Heights and attended local schools. A strong believer that education is a door to a better life, he enrolled at SDSU and graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in International Security and Conflict Resolution.

“Education and empowerment are a critical tool to elevate people from poverty and eliminate hunger,” Ahmed said.

In 2011, Ahmed and his friend and fellow SDSU alumnus, Yousef Abraham, created C.U.R.E. Africa or Communities United Reviving East Africa, in an effort to relieve famine in their native Somalia.

“Our goal was to raise awareness on campus about the situation. Little did we know that our efforts in creating awareness would translate into saving lives affected by drought and famine,” said Ahmed, who  also worked on the I AM A STAR FOR SOMALIA campaign, a humanitarian effort which raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for famine relief. “Ultimately, the world was going to respond to this famine but we wanted to continue making a difference back home.”

In 2014, with the help of the local Somali community and many student organizations at SDSU, C.U.R.E Africa successfully built an elementary school in the Puntland Region of Somalia. The local villagers named the school, which serves 230 students who had never had access to school, HORSAID Academy. In Somali, HORSAID means progress or moving forward. C.U.R.E. Africa officially became HORSAID Institute for Community Development, a domestic non-profit organization.

“Prior to our school, there was no primary school in the area and children who could afford to go to school would have to travel to a neighboring city to find education,” Ahmed said.

Today, HORSAID Institute for Community Development—Ahmed is Chief Executive Officer and President—operates multiple programs locally in the City Heights area, including the East African Fellowship Program, a community-based scholars program designed to curb some of the challenges facing East Africans in San Diego. The goal is to increase the pool of academically competitive East Africans for postsecondary education. Another local HORSAID program is the San Diego Coalition for Anti-Radicalization Education and Support, a coalition that represents a diverse array of non-profit organizations dedicated to reducing radicalism in the San Diego Somali and Muslim communities.

Ahmed has also worked in local, national and international organizations which have helped him to become a strong visionary leader. Locally, Ahmed serves on the City of San Diego Commission for Gang Prevention and Intervention, Mid-City Police Captain’s Advisory Board and other commissions and committees.

He is a leading voice in business and civic circles, providing guidance to local leaders and organizations on community safety, economic empowerment, and government relations.

At SDSU, Ahmed is working with university officials to address Muslim student concerns. “One of my many roles includes working with Muslim students on campus. Currently I’m the advisor for the Muslim Student Association (MSA) where I advise students on their organization’s programs and activities,” said Ahmed of his position as Community Engagement and Special Assistant to the Dean of Students at SDSU. “It’s important because when we support minority and underrepresented students on campus it becomes beneficial for the institution. It allows us to understand and even sometimes embrace other people’s differences, whether it is gender, race, culture or religion.”

Visit the C.U.R.E. Africa website.