Guled Ibrahim: A Transformative Journey to Success
When Guled Ibrahim arrived in the United States, he barely knew any English. Less than two years later, he graduated from high school with the highest honors. Learning a new language and transitioning into a new culture wasn’t easy, but hard work and a chance encounter with an admissions counselor from the University of Minnesota ultimately led Ibrahim to secure a place in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA).
“If I had not run into that admissions officer in my high school, I do not think I would have applied to the U of M. This was a year after I came to the country and the start of my senior year,” says Ibrahim, a recipient of a College of Liberal Arts Emerging Alumni Award. “She not only helped me fill the application—which was due in a week’s time—but also helped me register for the ACT. I hadn’t even heard of the ACT before I applied to the U. It was a serendipity that I met that counselor and it changed the trajectory of my life.”
Within the span of a decade, Guled Ibrahim went from CLA to the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, the United Kingdom for business school, Australia for fellowship work, and finally to his current position as an attorney for the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department. Though Ibrahim has been to many different places and had a variety of transformative experiences, he credits much of his journey to his roots at CLA. “The experiences I had that CLA provided—whether inside the classroom or outside the classroom—paid tremendously in helping me become the person I am today and succeed post-graduation,” says Ibrahim.
In the summer before Ibrahim first attended the U of M, he decided to join the Bridge to Academic Excellence program. “I ended up getting a 4.0 [GPA] that first semester. Without that program, I couldn’t have done that,” Ibrahim comments. He was also involved in the University Honors program and the McNair Scholars program.
Though these groups helped him tremendously and opened doors to new opportunities, Ibrahim notes that “it’s the people that made a difference. The U of M is just buildings without the people. There are countless faculty and staff who helped me succeed during my time at the University.” Ibrahim’s outstanding work and his strong connections to those around him are part of the reason that he has become a Rotary Peace Fellow, a Bush Fellow, and a Humphrey Policy Fellow at the U of M in the past few years.
Ibrahim’s career was never a straightforward path. When he was in high school, he had never even considered going to college. Now, after graduating from CLA with degrees in journalism and political science, Ibrahim works to protect the rights of all Minnesotans at the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department. Here he gets to combine his knowledge of investigative journalism with his knowledge of law in a way that profoundly impacts the lives of those around him.
“You are where you are because people see things in you,” says Ibrahim to current CLA students. “Be proactive. Take the initiative.” No one knows exactly where they will end up a decade from now, but as Ibrahim clearly shows, making connections and taking chances can take you to places you have never imagined.