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Somali student talks of her Stonebridge to Cambridge University experience

Kilburn Times
Thursday October 22, 2020

Miske Ali went from Stonebridge to Cambridge as told to Step Up Hub webinar. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

Miske Ali had an overwhelming awakening when she left her home in Stonebridge to study at Cambridge University, but does not regret a minute.

The 21-year-old Somali student, took part in Journey to My Success, a webinar from Step Up Hub Presents in celebration of Black History Month during October.

The history and politics graduate and aspiring lawyer aimed to inspire any young Black Muslims in attendance to go into further education with an account of her own experience.

One of seven siblings living in a three-bedroom home, Miske got a “mix of grades” at GCSEs.

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She was “pushed to apply” for Oxbridge by a teacher at Greenford High School where she did her A Levels.

“I wasn’t planning on going to university, I was going to do an apprenticeship or just work or take a few years out. I didn’t actually know what to do,” she said.

“In the Muslim community anyway they say ‘is university even Halal can we even go’ - it was a whole dilemma and I didn’t really have anyone to look up to. Truth be told, I was winging it.”

Following an interview at Cambridge University she was made an offer, worked hard to get the grades and was accepted into all-female Newnham College.

“I was one of the only Black Muslims at Cambridge and the whole experience was overwhelming and fulfilling,” she added.

“I think a lot of people aren’t prepared mentally before they step into university, they just do it because it’s the natural progression of things, but it’s so shocking and so overwhelming.”

She successfully secured loans, grants and bursaries and restarted the Somali society.

“There was only a handful of us, we came together we made a society, we tried to maintain a sense of identity. It was amazing.”

She would like to see the relationship that young Somali men and women have with education changed.

“I have a lot of friends my age who didn’t pursue education, had babies really young and are living unfulfilled lives and that is such a shame.

“The reason we see this in our communities is we are not taught the power of education, we are not taught how fundamentally life changing it is. It’s not a quick fix.”


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