Boise State University student Halima Hamud has been awarded the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship for her tremendous academic success and leadership accomplishments. She is one of 62 scholars selected this year out of a record number of 845 candidates who were nominated by 328 colleges and universities.
Hamud will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science degree in May 2022 and is Boise State’s fifth Truman Scholar. The scholarship will fund her graduate studies in international relations with a focus in East African studies.
She faced many adversities associated with her identity as a Black Muslim Somali woman coming from a refugee background. Her family sought refugee asylum in Kenya after the Somali Civil War broke out in 1991; they lived in mud houses in a camp in Dadaab for 20 years, supported by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund. Hamud spent her first nine years under Dadaab’s big shady trees and on hot sandy roads until her family arrived in America in 2009. She credits her mother for instilling the importance of discipline and education as she worked as a midwife in Dadaab to provide for their family.
“My family has made sacrifices for my education, and I will make them proud,” she said. “I will advance to higher education and bring my dreams into fruition. I have embodied my mother’s courageousness, discipline, perseverance and passion for women’s advancement. I am ready to do the work.”
After she completes her graduate studies, Hamud wants to work with agencies to develop workshops on skill building and job training for women who were refugees. She’s determined to remove the economic barriers that currently exist for refugees by providing women with the opportunity to grow and strengthen their skills through educational initiatives and community outreach.
“Halima is a model of wisdom, intelligence, generosity, thoughtfulness and care for her community,” said Boise State University President Marlene Tromp. “An extraordinary person, she is committed to using her education to make the world a better place. We are so proud of her accomplishments and this exceptional honor.”
Hamud is a TRIO Rising Scholar and a Micron Academy for Inclusive Leadership Scholar, as well as a McNair Scholar to research occupational licensing for immigrants in the Treasure Valley. Through the Miss Africa Idaho Scholarship, she created Circle of Excellence, an Instagram-based page that aims to liberate refugee women of color through narrative exploration. She was the first runner-up of Miss Somalia 2021.
Additionally, Hamud helped launch the African Student Association in 2019 to teach and share the cultures, food, history and languages of each African country. She serves as a member of the Multilingual Student Association to provide opportunities for marginalized students to become more involved in student government and university decisions, and was a member of the Equitable and Safe City for Everyone transition committee for Boise Mayor Lauren McLean.
“Halima epitomizes the Truman values of leadership, service and plain hard work,” said Andrew Finstuen, dean of Boise State’s Honors College. “And when you meet her, you feel the force of those qualities and the force of her humanity.”