Career talks bring options to South’s Somali speaking students


Salma Hussein

South’s bilingual and career choice talks brings in Somali community members. From left to right, state representative and mental health practitioner, Hodan Hassan, Hennepin County investigator Bashir Abdi, and educator Abdifatah Ahmed. South sophomore, Rahma Ahmed said, “I really appreciate their advice since they know more than us,” after attending a few meetings. Photo courtesy of Salma Hussein

Talula Cedar-James, Staff Writer

South’s bilingual career choice talks are giving bilingual students a chance to network with community members and learn about what their future could look like. This past October marked the start of the meeting’s second year.

The talks are focused around giving Somali speaking students a chance to interact with bilingual community members and hear the stories of how they got where they are today. “We are very intentional in recruiting professionals that are very engaging,” said Salma Hussein, South social worker and organizer of the talks.

The bilingual career talk meeting is organised once a month by various South staff members and students. They try to bring in a wide variety of community members. Hussein said, “We’ve really just used our network to expose our young people to the different career paths they can go into.”

South sophomore, Rahma Ahmed, who is interested in becoming a doctor, said “I learned a lot that can help me in the future,” after attending the first meeting of the year. The speakers who have come in are healthcare workers, law enforcement, politicians, and people in other possible career paths.

Somali speaking students make up a large part of the South community and need spaces were they can find support and representation. “I noticed how our young people like the bilingual students didn’t really have role models that look like them,” said Hussein.

The format of the talks allows for students to ask questions and interact on a personal level. “I really appreciate their advice since they know more than us,” said Ahmed.

One goal of the program is for the students and the speakers to explore possible mentorship. South junior Hodo Husse said she liked how “a lot of people came in there just to give me information for education [while I’m] still in school.”

Hussein first decided to organize a space for bilingual students in the beginning of last school year. “It really was a building wide [effort],” said Hussein. Through the community efforts the first Bilingual Career Choice Talk was held in South’s Media Center April of last year.

When picking speakers the organizers look for community members that will engage with students and tell the complexities of their stories. “A lot of young people are going through a lot so it’s good for them to know that you can overcome what your experiencing this current moment,” said Hussein. The speakers come into the space ready to share not only their successes but also their challenges.

One of Hussein’s goals is to give students especially from immigrant backgrounds more choices when it comes to deciding their futures. “I think there’s a lot of pressure to go into the STEM field and my hope is that young people can see others who look like them and are successful in different careers including STEM,” she said.

The biggest goal for the future of the Bilingual Career Talks is to create similar meetings for other languages that bilingual students speak at South. The organizers hope to spread the influence students like Husse and Ahmed are feeling around the school.