There was a terrific Anderson Cooper piece tonight on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that featured the story of a young man, Mubarik Mohamoud, a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who escaped from a life of herding goats and is now studying electrical engineering at one of the finest universities in the world. From goat herding to MIT. It has a certain ring to it. This man’s journey was made possible by a former hedge fund manager, Jonathan Starr, who started a school in Somaliland for the brightest young minds to receive educations.
Mohamoud was previously featured in a “New York Times” piece that highlighted Starr’s school, The Abaarso School. As Nicholas Kristof reported in 2015, “The Abaarso School has an astonishing 26 other alumni at U.S. universities, including M.I.T., George Washington University, Grinnell, Oberlin, Holy Cross and Amherst. There aren’t many high schools in the world with 45 students in a grade that are so successful in getting alumni into top colleges, let alone one where students speak English as a foreign language and often grew up in poverty. The Abaarso student at M.I.T., Mubarik Mohamoud, a junior studying electrical engineering, grew up as a nomadic herder raising camels, goats and sheep in an area with no schools; he began his education at a madrasa.”
Somaliland isn’t recognized by other nations, including the United States. It’s a breakaway republic. So the ability of students like Mubarik Mohamoud to pursue their college educations in America — as all Abaarso students seem to wish to do (as they expressed to Anderson Cooper) — is potentially in jeopardy with new Visa restrictions under the new administration. We sure do hope Starr is able to continue to help the brightest young minds in Somaliland pursue their undergraduate and graduate school educations here in America.
A goat herder from Somaliland interested in studying electrical engineering…it’s an admissions officer’s dream. It’s why America’s best universities exist — to educate the very best in the world so these young people can return to their homelands and make life better for their people.
It’s good for the young people of Somaliland and it’s good for these American universities. Think about how excited an admissions officer would be to admit a student from a place they may never have even heard of. Somaliland. Think about how excited they would be to admit a student who wishes to change their — relatively unknown — corner of the world. And think about how a goat herder who earned admission to a school like MIT can lead a press release in which an admissions office touts the accomplishments of an incoming class. We pride ourselves at Ivy Coach in our students being featured in these very kinds of press releases. And you don’t need to herd goats in Somaliland in order to be interesting. So we see you parents thinking, “Great. But my kid doesn’t herd goats.” Come to us early enough and we’ll find your goats equivalent and it’s going to be right in your local neighborhood — not in Somaliland.
While you’re here, read about The Greatest College Applicant Ever. According to us.