Graduate student from Somalia receives grant from international women’s organization

Caitlin Leahy | January 7, 2018

Fartun “Camilla” Jamal

International studies master’s student Fartun “Camilla” Jamal, was awarded a grant from the P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education for spring 2019. P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization where women celebrate the advancement of women; educate women through scholarships and awards; and motivate women to achieve their highest aspirations.

The program, established in 1973, provides one-time financial assistance to women whose education has been interrupted and who find it necessary to return to school to complete a degree or certification that improves their marketable skills for employment to support themselves and/or their families.

Camilla, born in Somalia, came to the U.S. after living in Kenya and Malaysia and visiting other countries.  After receiving her B.A. in global studies in 2013 from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, she began working with the African/Asian communities, particularly refugee/asylee single mothers and children from and female survivors of domestic abuse, in Fargo, North Dakota. 

She then moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she served as the community liaison between the Somali refugee community at Lyndale Neighborhood Association/Whittier Alliance organizations and the Minneapolis Police Department at the Fifth Precinct in order to break the communication barriers. During this time, she helped the women of this community secure job placement, gain access to education, and develop leadership skills.

Despite the emotional toll that this work can take, Camilla is determined to give back. As part of her master’s program, she hopes to intern (and eventually get a job) with the United Nations, UNESCO, or other international organizations, for more experience at the global level. Her post-graduation goal is to help women, particularly single mothers and orphan children, gain access to the education that she feels lucky to receive. 

With this work, she will also be honoring her beloved mother, who shaped Camilla’s view on education before her death. Her last message was: “education is a powerful tool that will open more doors for you than you can imagine. I was not given any educational opportunity when I was young. Therefore, never ever take it for granted.”

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922