Class of 2020: Congratulations Firdowza

Congratulations, Class of 2020! COVID-19 upended your senior year and graduation celebrations. We want to recognize your hard work, perseverance and accomplishments amidst such unique challenges. Over the course of the next two weeks, we are highlighting high school graduates across King County. These seniors participated in either Youthsource or youth development programming supported by Best Starts for Kids. Thank you to the Institute for Community Leadership, Treehouse, Lifewire, Lambert House, Youthsource and Young Women Empowered for empowering our scholars’ dreams! Stay tuned as we introduce you to many amazing high school graduates.


Congratulations Firdowza

Firdowza is a graduating senior and shares her experience and thoughts with us

What challenges have you, your friends and/or family experienced because of COVID-19? Or, what about COVID-19 makes you feel most sad/confused/angry?

The pandemic of COVID-19, and the economic hardship, job loss, loss of education faced by my peers and community has been significant. However, through my work the last three years with the Institute for Community Leadership, I have learned to apply Dr. King’s lesson on shattered dreams. A dream is an aspiration or hope, something you are looking forward to accomplishing. It can be small such as a trip or big like ending world hunger. Shattered dreams are a hope that has been demolished, a dream that has been broken. It is not something you get back, and that is normal everyone goes through it one way or another.

Dr. King teaches that there are three negative ways of responding to shattered dreams; the first is to become bitter and mean. This response is one that garners nothing but resentment for life. The second response is to withdraw completely into themselves, to cut oneself off from everything as well as becoming indifferent to anything around them. Lastly, is to adopt a fatalistic philosophy, the idea that whatever happens has to happen and that everything is predetermined. This response is one that succumbs to the idea of fate and is completely resigns to what has happened and does not seek any deliberate decision.

However, Dr. King teaches there is one positive way in which you can utilize your shattered dreams ~ that is to turn it into an asset. He teaches us to tell ourselves, this is my grief, and I shall bear it; how can I turn my grief into an asset? In order to do that you need to be creative in your response, to turn something negative into a positive requires immense creative will. Denial and hatred aren’t the way to respond, in order to grow and become your best and noble self, channel that shattered dream into a positive light and use it to create a new path and a new dream. Dr. King advises service to something greater than ourselves ~ our family, our community, or to our vision of justice and peace ~ is indeed the best way to turn our grief into an asset. So, to answer your question, my family and I face the same challenges as many do, I’m not saddened or angry about it, rather I have accepted our new circumstances and am working on turning it into a positive new dream and a new path.

How will you be celebrating graduation this year and marking this big milestone?

I will be celebrating this year with my family and my closest friend. We will most likely have the traditional Somali version of an all you can eat buffet.

What are your plans for after you graduate?

My plans after getting both my Highschool Diploma and Associate Degree is to go to a 4-year university (UWT) and study Engineering. I plan to continue to work with the Institute in an internship, mentoring younger students in civic engagement and leadership. Then I plan to get into non-profit work after my studies and joining as a volunteer with either the Peace Corps or the UN.

What is your message to other people your age at this time?

My advice is to not look back at this as opportunities lost but as something gained. Not only have these difficult times made us more aware of the world outside, but it has also helped us discover who we are because who we are is not grounded in what we do but how we respond and that is the true test of character.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

My speech as part of the keynote address to the Washington State Legislature for Dr. King Day with the Institute for Community Leadership is an accomplishment that I am proud of.


Thank you for sharing, Firdowza and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for you!

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