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Student Spotlight: Nur, a first-generation student, nears the degree finish line

College Possible student Nur

For the first 14 years of her life, Nur lived in Malaysia with her family as refugees. Their refugee status made it difficult for her to attend school. Her mother had tried enrolling her in elementary school, but she couldn’t get in, so her mother home-schooled her. It was her mother who taught her to read, write and count in Malay.

“It was always my dream to go to school just like other kids surrounding me,” says Nur. “My dreams were always to be able to get an education and be a successful person one day. But back then, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to be a successful person because I didn’t go to school. It’s not only difficult for refugees to get an education in Malaysia, but [getting a job] is another tough thing to get.”

In 2014, Nur’s family received a call from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), announcing that her family had the opportunity to settle in the United States. Nur felt that although moving to a new place would not be easy, her life would be changed for the better. She knew she could get a better education and a better life. Her dreams had been revived and finally felt within her reach.

Nur enrolled as a freshman at Milwaukee’s Casimir Pulaski High School at the beginning of 2015. Because she was still learning English, understanding her teachers and assignments was difficult at times. Despite this barrier, she knew she couldn’t give up, so she hit the ground running and eventually ended up skipping 10th grade. Toward the end of her high school years, she was even selected as a delegate representing Casimir Pulaski High School and the state of Wisconsin at the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders.

All the while, Nur was a part of the College Possible coaching program. Her coaches helped her with many college preparation tasks, while being a voice of support and empowerment when she needed it. In her senior year, she applied to nine different colleges and was accepted to all but three! Ultimately, she chose to attend the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM) to study criminology, a subject she chose because of the flexibility it gave her in furthering her education. With an interest in both science and law, she could pursue either medical school or law school. Right now, she’d like to become an oncologist, but would be happy to be any kind of doctor if it means helping others.

Throughout college, Nur has continued to find support from her coaches. She says College Possible has become a part of who she is today.

“Having someone as a College Possible coach who was always there whenever I needed help, asking about my life, and always trying their best to answer any questions that I have, I really respect that,” she says. “Without fail, College Possible has always supported me throughout these years.”

Nur obtained a summer 2022 paid internship in Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s D.C. office through the National Summer Learning Association. When she applied, she was unsure she would be accepted, but now she says it is one of her biggest achievements. To her, it feels like a once-in- a-lifetime opportunity. After her summer in D.C., Nur will attend her final semester in fall of 2022 and graduate in December that year. She intends to continue her education after graduation. By earning her degree and pursuing her dreams, she hopes that she is encouraging her younger siblings to achieve whatever they want in life.


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