The Think IT scholarship program is designed to holistically support students: in the classroom, financially, and through career exploration and mentorship. As Think IT scholars, the four 2019 winners will receive personalized professional support and guidance, receive access to college-to-career programs, and get the opportunity to connect with technology and business professionals.

Each of these students has a story worth telling. So, we decided to sit down with each of these esteemed winners to hear – in their own words – how they got to where they are today and where they hope to go next.

In the second of four upcoming features, we are excited to spotlight Latifa Said, a 2018 Genesys Works young professional who interned at Fairview Health Services. She is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota where she majors in Management Information Systems and International Business. When she isn’t studying or working, Latifa is the treasurer of the Somali Student Association and enjoys spending time with her friends and family, as well as rereading her favorite books.

For Latifa, this scholarship will help her get one step closer to earning her degree. Genesys Works College Specialist Britney Hayes explained that, “As a student in the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, Latifa will be required to Study Abroad as a part of the program. Majoring in both Management Information Systems and International Business with a minor in finance, this award will help to ensure Latifa’s enrollment in Carlson and fulfill her goal of completing an international experience.”

We’re excited to help share Latifa’s story, and of course, to recognize her accomplishments thus far!

Q: What was your reaction to receiving this scholarship?
Latifa Said: I screamed when I first got the email! I was sitting bored in my room when I decided to check my email to pass time. I clicked on the email and saw the word “Congratulations.” My mom came running into the room to see what was wrong and was surprised to see me smiling. I told her the great news and we both squealed together!

Q: What was the biggest challenge of your transition into college?
LS: My biggest challenge was being able to prioritize my “free time.” College was a whole new ballgame. I didn’t have the same seven classes each day that started from eight in the morning to three in the afternoon.

Q: Can you recall a breakthrough moment during Genesys Works that was a huge learning experience for you?
LS: I would say that completing the entire Genesys Works program was a breakthrough moment for me. Before GW, my only commitment was school. All the jobs and volunteer work I started, I quit halfway through. Finishing the summer training and the internship taught me that I could not only commit to something but excel in it as well.

Q: What are you passionate about?
LS: I’m passionate about helping students find out what they want to do in college. My friends jokingly call me their advisor because of how much I help them with their college/career paths. I think this passion stems from not knowing what to do early on in my college career, and I just want to make sure other students don’t have to go through the same stress and uneasiness of the unknown.

Q: Do you have a mentor or a particular person who has helped you along the way to receiving this scholarship?
LS: Yes and no. I heard about this scholarship on my own through a Genesys Works email, I applied without telling anyone, and I sought out possible recommenders myself. However, it’s only fair that I give credit to my older sister. She has helped me with the entire college process and basically held my hand every step of the way. By applying for this scholarship, I wanted to prove to her that all of her help has paid off, and I was able to apply the skills she taught me in order to receive this scholarship.

Q: What is the most exciting aspect to you about the Think IT scholarship?
LS: The most exciting aspect is the mentorship portion that the Think IT scholarship will provide. I can’t wait for what’s in store in the coming years. I believe that these connections will go far beyond the scholarship and be valuable to me for years.

Be on the lookout next week for the third of four pieces in the Think IT Scholarship Spotlight Series. And, if you haven’t read the first in this series, check out our feature on Brandon Ngo here! The Think IT Scholarship is presented by York Solutions, in partnership with Genesys Works Twin Cities, the Think IT Association, and Wallin Education Partners.

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