Education Without Boundaries
“I’m determined. I can’t settle,” says Muhammed Abbas Abdulkarimu. He says he feels a pressure to succeed because he’s got people in Africa – his grandma, granddad, aunts, uncles – rooting him on. “If I wasn’t taking care of myself, that would hurt my family dearly.”
Abdulkarimu’s parents didn’t go to college; he’s the first. But his family and a lot of other people have helped him get to Goucher, where he is flourishing. “They take care of me, give me tips. With them on my side, it is so much easier,” he says.
While he doesn’t get to see his family very often, they keep in close touch. He tells parents his experiences on campus and tries to make them laugh, and he’s glad that he’ll be able to help pave the way to college for his younger sister and two brothers.
So while Abdulkarimu says Goucher can sometimes be overwhelming and stressful, he makes sure he makes the most of it – for himself and for them. He says he specifically chose Goucher because he wanted to influence what happens here. “It’s small, so I can be known. That’s my dream. I want to be heard,” he says.
An admitted extrovert, Abdulkarimu says, “I like talking to people, and I always want to engage in something.” He certainly has kept himself busy fulfilling this goal.
For his first two semesters on campus he participated in community service at the Hampden Family Center, which provides community services in a Baltimore City neighborhood. Abdulkarimu was greeted with “Mr. Mo! Mr. Mo!” each time he arrived to serve as a mentor to a group of elementary schoolchildren. He helped the kids with their homework, played games, did arts and crafts, and watched Disney movies. “It was fun. You definitely form a bond with them,” he says.
On campus he has volunteered his time to participate in fashion shows for International Education Week and for Umjoa, Goucher’s black student union. He also plays intramural basketball and flag football, and he works for the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology, assisting people when they have problems with their phones, computers, etc. “I’ll get you the help you need. I’ll help you succeed,” he claims.
“Goucher makes you feel comfortable to participate in all of these things,” he says.
Abdulkarimu calls his sophomore year the “come up.” That was when he really enmeshed himself in life at Goucher. He applied to be a part of Orientation Committee and was accepted, and he became a Goucher ambassador, one of a select group of students who give campus tours, host overnight guests, and help the Office of Admissions with special events.
He helps with summer orientation, such as by doing skits to help show students what they might expect here at Goucher, and he talks with his mentees over the summer to get them ready to live and learn on campus.
In addition to his other responsibilities as an ambassador, Abdulkarimu was part of Accepted Applicants Day. He helped guide people to where they needed to be, and he was there to mingle and make people feel good – particularly parents, who he says love to ask questions. He tells them: “Goucher has a lot to offer, but your student has to be determined, be focused. They have to take the most of it.”