This is the third in our Student Spotlight series, where our students tell their stories in their own words.
“I am Omer Bin Someda and I’m from Al Dhalayah District, Hadhramout Governorate, Yemen. I am proud to have earned a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) with a concentration in Non-profit Organization Management from Seton Hall University in New Jersey. This transformative experience equipped me with invaluable skills and knowledge to navigate the complexities of the nonprofit sector effectively. Prior to this, I obtained a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Aden in Yemen, laying the foundation for my understanding of healthcare and community well-being. The combination of these degrees has provided me with a diverse skill set that I am eager to apply in addressing critical social issues.
Growing up in a family of 15 siblings (8 brothers and 7 sisters) in a village where educational opportunities were limited, I faced unique challenges. In our village, education was available only up to the 4th or 5th grade in a small school. Beyond that point, the options were to either leave for the town or contribute to family work on the farm. Given these circumstances, I chose the path less traveled and became the first person in our family to attend university. This decision was not just a personal achievement; it represented breaking barriers and defying the odds to pursue education. I hope that by setting this precedent, I can inspire and pave the way for future generations within my family to pursue their educational aspirations, contributing to a brighter future despite the challenges of our rural setting.
My academic journey began with a Pharmacy degree, a path my family suggested as they said, "We need a doctor in our family". Although I practiced as a pharmacist for two years after completing a five-year program, I sensed a misalignment with my true passions. Uncertain about my future, I explored various city clubs, initiatives, and organizations. During this exploration, I discovered a profound interest in working with people and making a meaningful impact on their lives. The turning point came when I recognized that my role as a pharmacist did not provide the platform to affect the kind of substantial change I aspired to, especially given the challenging circumstances in Yemen due to the ongoing war. Motivated to contribute meaningfully to my community in the face of adversity, I shifted my educational focus to Non-profit Management. This transition aligns with my commitment to leverage my skills and knowledge to make a positive difference in the lives of those affected by the crisis. Working with a nonprofit organization enables me to channel my passion for helping others into a powerful force for change, allowing me to impact not just individuals but entire communities in need.
Significant challenges have marked my journey from childhood to pursuing higher education. Growing up in a large family in a village posed financial constraints, and helping to support our family of 15 siblings meant working at my father's gas station after school. The decision to move to the town to continue my education added an extra layer of difficulty, as it meant living away from my family at the age of 13. I vividly recall the tough times of navigating life in a new environment, away from familiar faces, and eagerly anticipating the end of each year when I could reunite with my family. Another formidable challenge presented itself when I arrived in the USA in 2020. Adapting to a new culture was already a significant adjustment, but in March of the same year, the global pandemic struck, necessitating strict lockdowns. Being confined to my home during this period intensified feelings of loneliness and homesickness, creating mental health challenges and moments of overthinking. In the face of these adversities, the decision to pursue a Master's in Public Administration with a focus on Non-profit Organization Management was driven by a deep-seated desire to channel my experiences into positive change. My personal challenges have fueled my commitment to working with nonprofits, as I understand firsthand the transformative impact such organizations can have on individuals facing hardship.
The impact of receiving a scholarship from the Hadhramout Foundation (HF)has been profound, touching every aspect of my life and career. Before the scholarship, the prospect of completing my education seemed distant due to the financial challenges posed by the large size of my family and the limited resources of our family business. My father, acknowledging these constraints, expressed his inability to support my education beyond high school. The HF scholarship became the beacon of hope that illuminated my educational path. It not only enabled me to complete my bachelor's degree but also opened the doors for me to pursue a master's degree in the USA. This support was not just a financial boost; it was a transformative opportunity that transcended borders, broadening my horizons and exposing me to a world of possibilities. Beyond my personal journey, the impact rippled through my family and community. By setting an example for my brothers and friends in the village, the HF scholarship demonstrated that educational aspirations need not be curtailed by financial constraints. It showcased that with the foundation's backing, one could overcome such barriers and pursue academic excellence. Furthermore, the scholarship has played a crucial role in my career development. In the face of the challenging circumstances in Yemen due to the ongoing war and subsequent job losses, the HF support has become a lifeline. It has empowered me to secure meaningful employment after graduation, allowing me to contribute not only to my own well-being but also to supporting my family during these difficult times.
My vision for leveraging my education to benefit Yemen is rooted in addressing the challenges that the nonprofit sector faces, particularly amid the profound humanitarian crisis caused by the ongoing war, recognized by the UN as the largest in the world. The current state of the nonprofit sector in Yemen is not optimal, lacking proficient organizations and individuals to effectively meet the urgent needs of the people. To contribute to the improvement of the nonprofit sector in Yemen, I have formulated a strategic plan that aligns with the unique needs of the community. First and foremost, I aim to enhance the capacity of local organizations by providing targeted support and training. This involves empowering these organizations with the skills and resources necessary to navigate complex challenges and deliver impactful solutions. Fundraising plays a pivotal role in sustaining the operations of nonprofit organizations. Therefore, part of my strategy involves improving fundraising techniques within the local context. By implementing innovative and effective fundraising strategies, I intend to secure the financial resources required to address pressing humanitarian issues and create sustainable positive change. Additionally, I envision transforming the efforts of local organizations from a primarily local stage to an international one. This involves fostering partnerships, collaborations, and advocacy on the global platform to garner greater support and resources for Yemen's humanitarian needs. By bridging the gap between local initiatives and international support, we can amplify the impact of nonprofit efforts and address the multifaceted challenges faced by the Yemeni population. In summary, my future plans involve actively contributing to the enhancement of the nonprofit sector in Yemen by building local capacity, improving fundraising strategies, and elevating the profile of local organizations on the international stage. Through these initiatives, I aspire to create lasting positive change and alleviate the hardships faced by the people of Yemen.”
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