“A commitment to my education and a career came after a year of personal tragedies.
In May 2007, I was assaulted and nearly died from a traumatic brain injury. I was placed in a medically induced coma for a month. They didn’t know if I was going to make it.
At the same time this happened to me my mother was in Somalia, caring for my grandfather — the first president of Somalia — as he died at age 98.
In May 2008, almost a year after my severe brain injury, my father passed away from pneumonia. It was very tough for me.
I had just begun taking low-level classes at Salt Lake Community College. The doctors weren’t sure if I was going to be able to take high or even mid-level courses. But I started to heal and was able to go to school and work. I began experiencing seizures because of my head injury, but I finished at SLCC in 2012. I took one semester at the U and then needed to work so I didn’t come back to school fully until 2015. I have not taken a semester off since then.
I am getting a degree in sociology because I like communicating with people and want to assist people who are going through trauma like I did. My ultimate goal is to work with people who have brain injuries.
The fact I made it is a miracle. When I look back to where I was and where I am, I think I’ve accomplished more since my brain injury. Before that, I wasn’t thinking about my career or anything. That brain injury may have made me stronger. I never declared a disability. I want to do things just like everybody else does.
I am going to graduate school, either in Virginia or Minnesota. I am going to miss the U, but there is another road I need to take.
I wish my dad was alive to see me graduate. When he died, I was just at the very start of my schooling. But maybe he will see me when I graduate on May 4.”
— Ibrahim M. Jama, Class of 2017, bachelor of science in sociology