During her time in the white tents of a refugee camp in Djiabouti, Basmalah Algahmi could not have imagined what her life would turn out to be.
Escaping war in Yemen, Basmalah and her family were stripped of their homes and forced to flee for their safety. In 2016, The Algahmi family was granted asylum in the United States. From learning a new language to feeling home-sick for Yemen, the family was faced with incredible challenges as they found their feet in a new home.
In the midst of these obstacles, Basmalah realized her passion for learning. It was in her school classroom, Basmalah felt empowered to believe she can achieve whatever she sets her mind to.
“School was always my home. There I feel safe, smart, and accepted,” Basmalah worked vigorously in school excelling in her courses and going above and beyond in extracurricular activities.
Although she was performing at the top of her class, Basmalah admits she didn’t always feel supported in her decision to earn an education as a young Arab American woman. These experiences reinforced her unshakeable commitment to earning a degree. “Everyone has a right to go to school. An educated woman knows how to be a better mother, wife, sister, daughter and citizen because she applies what she learns in her life. We don’t go to school just to get a job, but to be the best version of ourselves.”
Basmalah’s hard work earned her admission to the University of Michigan-Dearborn where she studies Computer Science. She has recently been selected as the first-ever recipient of the Account Spark STEM Scholarship, which supports young Arab Americans in STEM.
“Similar to Mr. Noor (one of the founders of the scholarship), I would not be able to reach this point without the help of others. I will never forget those that helped me fill out the FAFSA application, gave me a ride to Henry Ford College for the first time and those that gave their money to help me go to school.”
Basmlah’s experience has inspired her to pay it forward. Her goal is to establish a coding school in Yemen to create opportunities for the youth who otherwise would not have access to critical educational programming.
The Account Spark STEM scholarship was founded by Mr. Noor Atari and Mrs. Areej Bazzari. Learn more here.