Twin Cities – We sat down with Class of 2014 Genesys Works alumna Nasro Omar who graduated from Augsburg University last spring. Six years ago, as a Young Professional, she began her internship at Optum where she worked on the telecommunications support team. After finishing the internship year, Nasro elected to go to Hamline University for college. Hear directly from her how she made her journey through college and post-secondary education.
Q: Tell us about your college journey.
Nasro Omar: My college journey was different in that I took a slightly different path the most of my peers. I actually went to three different colleges. The first college I attended was Hamline University, I thought I would be completing my four years of school there, but financial difficulties made me reconsider the two-year associates and transfer options at community colleges. I transferred out of Hamline after my first semester because I didn’t want to take out loans, and realized that I would have to in order to afford the cost of attendance. I enrolled in Normandale community college and earned my Associates of Art with an emphasis in Psychology degree. I then transferred once again to Augsburg University where I earned my Bachelors of Arts in Social Psychology degree this past May.
Q: What was the biggest challenge in your transition to college?
NO: Understanding and navigating financial aid packages and award letters were by far the most challenging transition to college. Most of us don’t truly understand how to read our award letters and often times we get caught up in the number of zeros that are listed that we do not pay as much attention to how much of that aid is actually loans.
Q: As a college student, how did you get engaged on campus and in the community?
NO: I volunteered a lot throughout college, especially in my earlier years. Some of my courses required volunteering at sites that aligned with the course subject. Although these volunteer experiences were required for the courses, students have the choice of what sites to volunteer at and they were a great way to get involved in the neighborhood and school campus. For example, at Augsburg University, students have the option to volunteer at the campus kitchen or tutor students at the local community center.
Q: What are you passionate about?
NO: That is such a hard question to answer because I have so many things I am passionate about! Education, socioeconomic inequality, immigration issues, gender inequality. The list is endless. The best part about my passions is that college was either where I discovered some of them or where my passion and drive for these issues was reinforced.
Q: Tell us about a breakthrough moment you had in college.
NO: I believe college is filled with multiple small and big breakthrough moments. For me personally, although I had numerous ones, my big breakthrough moment was during my senior year research project as a McNair Scholar. As a McNair scholar, I had the opportunity to create and conduct a research project from start to finish. I was able to choose my research topic and tailor it specifically in a way that fulfilled my vision of what I wanted the outcome to be. I had so much fun conducting this research! It was challenging, exciting and I learned so many things academically and otherwise. The breakthrough moment occurred not from a single moment but from the realization that the success or failure of this project depended solely on me and that made the end result phenomenal.
Q: What advice would you give to our Class of 2019 who are about to start their college and career journeys?
NO: There is so much for you to learn, see, do and experience. College is truly its own little world. The experiences you have are unique to you and help shape you into who you will become. I think oftentimes we talk a lot about how fun and exciting college is but is also important to note that college is hard. You will experience difficult times, and moments of self-doubt. There will be courses that challenge you to see the world from different perspectives and pivotal moments that impact yours in unmeasurable ways. You will make new friends, and lose old ones, and learn more about yourself that you ever thought was possible.
About Genesys Works
Genesys Works provides pathways to career success for high school students in underserved communities through skills training, meaningful work experiences, and impactful relationships. Our program consists of 8 weeks of technical and professional skills training, a paid year-long corporate internship, college and career coaching, and alumni support to and through college. Our goal is to move more students out of poverty and into professional careers, creating a more productive and diverse workforce in the process. Since its founding in 2002, Genesys Works has grown to serve nearly 4,000 students annually in Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington’s National Capital Region. To learn more, visit genesysworks.org.