Mahamed Noor, a 2008 graduate of Ombudsman East Charter in Phoenix, was honored Dec. 8 at the Arizona Department of Education‘s annual conference on English Language Learners. He was recognized for his outstanding effort and accomplishment in learning English as a second language.
Arizona State Superintendent of Education John Huppenthal presented the award, and Mahamed delivered a speech to more than 200 OELAS conference attendees.
Mahamed entered the U.S. in 2006 as a refugee of the civil war in his home country of Somalia. Due to the violence in his native country, he was raised in refugee camps in Kenya, and at age 20, he knew little English and had little more than a basic education.
Two years later, with the help of dedicated staff and his ELL teacher Maryann Moll, who nominated him for this award, he passed the AIMS Reading test, completed his academic requirements for graduation and was fluent in English.
Mahamed is employed as an auto mechanic for a car rental dealership in Phoenix. He has one semester remaining before graduating from Gateway Community College, when he will receive his Associates Degree and Certification in Automotive Technology.
During his speech, Mahamed told the group, “I don’t know how much you know about my country, but a civil war erupted there in the early 1990′s. As a result, millions of Somalis like me had to leave their homes and make a new life elsewhere.”
“When I started at Ombudsman in 2006, to say that I was overwhelmed would be an understatement,” he continued. “At first, I could barely understand what my teachers were saying, let alone answer the questions that were being thrown at me. But luckily my teachers went out of their way to provide me with the instruction I needed. Ms. Moll in particular spent countless time with me to help me improve my English. Having my high school diploma has helped me in many ways. It helped me find a job even when the economy was bad, but even more importantly it has showed me the importance of education. I can honestly say that I have Ombudsman to thank for that.”