Sadiyo Dirie is a 2017 Cecil E. Newman Scholarship recipient. Her scholarship-winning essay appears below.
When I first started speaking, my first word was Hooyo (mother) I have grown up in her arms: she sacrificed everything for me. She woke up every day early in the morning and made something warm to eat. Before I went to school she used to tell me don’t ever let anyone put you down.
My mother made education my first priority. She gave me a pen and a book and said, “Live to learn.” My father, a man with great tolerance and responsibility, worked hard to give me the opportunity to have an education. Even though our family income was not good, he still paid for my education and sent me to school. He worked on buildings. He carried the stones on his head to build the houses so that he would get the money to pay for our education and home needs.
I was a foolish little child, and I did not know that my father was doing all that just so I could be in school and Dugsi (religious studies). I used to skip classes and didn’t go until mum and dad told me to go, and I would go because of them.
If I knew how much he was working for us and understood then like I do today, I would have never skipped a class. I would have focused more on school. All I saw was my mum giving me delicious food and dressing me to go to school and Dugsi.
Dear mother and father, thank you for being there for me when I needed it, and also when I thought I didn’t need it. I can never thank you enough
I did not know how much they were suffering to raise us and how my dad was working to bring every single cent home. My mother and my father are the only two people that are behind me successfully graduating. When I was 10 years old, my hero went to the United States.
After that, he started to put money away so that he could pay for our visa process. He did not focus on his needs. After his remarkable efforts, my brother and I came to the United States! He immediately took me to school.
Every morning I sleep without worrying of being late to school. My father wakes me early in the morning, and even when I don’t want to go to school, he still insists that I go. If I say I am not feeling well, he says wake up and drink a cup of tea and go. I wouldn’t be able to go to school if my father and mother didn’t make a great team and encourage me to go when I feel like I cannot do it, since the country and the system of the American schools was unfamiliar to me.
My mother and I are now far from each other, a distance of 13,872 km. However, I feel like she is close to me. She makes me feel like I can do anything. It is like she knows when I am not feeling well.
I remember a day when I missed her, and I cried. She called and said, “What happened?” I lied and said, “I am fine. I have a cold.” She said, “Don’t lie to me!” I couldn’t stop crying. She said, “I don’t want you to cry. I want you to be effective and do good work.” She made me smile, and she is always close to me.
Dear mother and father, thank you for being there for me when I needed it, and also when I thought I didn’t need it. I can never thank you enough. Thank you for teaching me to respect shyness and etiquette. I owe my little or big success to both of you. Along with that, thank you father, I wouldn’t be here without you.
For a recap/photos from the 2017 Graduation Celebration, go here.