Super Scholar: Samuell senior moves far beyond a place called ‘Nowhere’

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You wouldn’t expect much from someone born and raised in a place called “Nowhere.” But Mohamed Mohamed has made a practice of consistently defying expectations and inspiring everyone who meets him.

The fourth of 10 children, W. W. Samuell High School senior Mohamed was born in a Kenyan refugee camp called Kakuma, which translates to “nowhere.” He lived there until 2009, when he moved to the United States. He’s now well on his way to going somewhere, using the adversity in his past as his motivation for lifting himself, and others, up.

With a 3.81 GPA, Mohamed is ranked fifth in his graduating class. He’s president of the National Honor Society, and a member of the chess club and math tutoring program at Samuell. He knows first-hand the importance of helping others, and uses his early release time at school to lead the special needs students on campus in a recycling program. Mohamed also volunteers at the Buckner Humanitarian Organization and the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society.

Mohamed was recently awarded a 2016 Fairway to Success Deloitte/NTPGA Scholarship, which is a four-year, $20,000 award. He also received a Dallas ISD Superintendent’s Scholarship award. Mohamed will be the first in his family to attend college. In the fall he will head to the University of Texas at Austin to study mechanical engineering.

What is your proudest accomplishment in life?

The proudest accomplishment in my life is building a special relationship with Samuell’s special needs students by creating a recycling project. At the beginning of this year I noticed the lack of student support for our Function Living Skills (FLS) community. That’s when I took it upon myself to do more for them. At first, I was going to the FLS classes and assisting the students with whatever they were doing for the day. Knowing we needed to do a more hands-on activity, Mrs. Utrera, an FLS teacher, and I created the recycling project. At first, we asked every teacher to have a designated bin for recycling materials. Now, every B day during my early release period, I lead the special needs students and go around the building collecting from our recycling bins. This opportunity wouldn’t have been possible without my involvement and leadership role as President of the National Honor Society.

When you felt yourself struggling, what helped you hang on to reach senior year?

I come from a refugee camp in Kenya called Kakuma (Nowhere). While in the refugee camp, I had no dreams knowing my fate would be similar to everyone else’s: Living the rest of my life as a refugee with no hope of ever returning back. When I am struggling or need a bit of motivation, I constantly remind myself of the struggles of living in a refugee camp and dream of where I want to be in life. Knowing I can become anything I want to be as long as I work harder than the last guy, motivates me to keep going.

What’s your favorite memory from your time in Dallas ISD?

My favorite memory from my time in Dallas ISD would be the day I was told I received the Fairway to Success Scholarship. The scholarship committee held a meeting with me, the other recipient, and several of our school teachers, counselors, and staff members in Mr. Vega’s (our principal) office to notify us of the scholarship. The same day, a few hours later, Mr. Vega held a meeting with our senior class where he acknowledged my hard work and my winning of the scholarship. Overall that moment was one to remember.

What teacher has had the greatest impact on your life?

Mr. Owusu had the greatest impact on my life. Through him I was able to accept myself and find an ideal way to live life. Before I meet Mr. Owusu, I was just wanted to succeed without the help of others; however Mr. Owusu shined a new light in me. Through a recommendation of a teacher my sophomore year, I meet Mr. Owusu. For the last two years, he has tutored me in Calculus almost every day before and after school. With his help I was able to achieve a well-qualified score in the AP Calculus exam. Many people call us math nerds and they’re right, but there is more to Mr. Owusu and me than just math. He is like a father to me, and I can always count on him for advice.

What one bit of advice would you give to an incoming ninth-grader to help them succeed?

The advice I would give to an incoming ninth-grader to help them succeed would be to strive to be the best at everything you ever do.

What are you most looking forward to after graduation?

I am looking forward to starting a new life at the University of Texas at Austin. I am hoping to discover more about myself. The things I want to do at UT include: working, being a part of the University Leadership Organization, other community service based organizations, as well as academic based organizations.

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