In her year-end message to the college community, President Kathleen McCartney reflects on the many initiatives, programs and ideas that made 2018-19 stand out.
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Habso Omane ’22 was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, where she lived with her Somali parents and five siblings until she was 6 years old.
Omane—whose family has since settled in Portland, Maine—is one of 632 new students entering Smith this fall.
She says of her time as a refugee, “It’s very much in the past. But it’s also something that is currently happening. Because whatever I do now it’s because we were able to get out of the camp.”
Having a unique lens on life is a quality that Omane shares with many other members of the class of 2022. This year’s new students were drawn from the largest applicant pool in the college’s history.
Here’s what else Omane had to say in this series of profiles of new Smith students.
Portland does feel like home now. When we were in the camp, I was very young, and I hadn’t really become accustomed to any particular environment. I remember family and being around a lot of people who spoke our language. Although there is a large Somali community in Portland, there was no one we were related to or knew when we first came. Most of my [extended] family still lives in Somalia and Kenya, where there is a lack of education and jobs.
I had a mentor in high school who went to a women’s college, and she told me about Smith. At first I thought the idea was a little odd, but talking to students when I visited gave me a different perspective. At the end, I felt that a women’s college would be a good fit for me. It also feels empowering because my mom never got the opportunity to go to school. My dad stopped in grade school. It’s hard for them to imagine me in college.
I went to a national youth science camp for three and a half weeks this summer in West Virginia, where they had a lot of lectures and seminars. It was interesting to explore areas that I’ve never looked at before, like physics and astronomy.
I am really big on activism and social awareness. I like doing community service work with children because they have so much potential. I worked with elementary school children in 4H science summer camp for three years. We were trying to get them to explore science on their free time. Opening children up to new perspectives—that’s something I want to continue to do at Smith.
Classes! I’ve looked at the catalog but I haven’t pinpointed specific classes yet—they all look so interesting. I think I want to go into medicine, and I may study biological sciences. I know I’m going to pursue science, but I’m still deciding on which area.