By: College and Career Readiness Team
Welcome to the Next Step Spotlight! Every month throughout the school year we highlight a Next Step Staff as well as Alumni to share their experiences with education and how both good and bad moments have guided them to success.
For this month’s Next Step Staff Spotlight, we interviewed Adama Hamadi, Case Manager for Student Support Services.
Q: What is your name?
A: Adama Hamadi (I was born Adama Konteh, but I share my husband's last name)
Q: Where are you from?
A: I’m a scoop of Washington, DC with PG County sprinkles.
Q. Did you encounter any challenges while attending high school/GED program? If so, can you describe what they were and how you overcame them?
A: I’ve always enjoyed learning and studying, so I didn't have many academic challenges in high school, but I do remember feeling uncomfortable about how different I was from the average student at my school. I was one of a handful of black students in my grade (out of 120) and I was a "Scholarship Kid" surrounded by affluent classmates. My biggest challenge was trying not to compare myself to more privileged classmates or not taking it personally when schoolmates or their parents would make insensitive comments about my background.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue a post-secondary education?
A: I didn't know I had the option NOT to go to college! My parents didn't play those games; they had made up their mind that ALL of their children would get as much formal education as possible. So I went.
Q: Were you the first one in your family continue their education?
A: No. My father has a Master's Degree and 2 of my siblings got their Bachelor's degrees before me.
Q: Where did you continue your post-secondary education?
A: NYU, baby!!! (New York University)
Q: What did you study?
A: Double Major: Spanish/Chemistry (I was pre-med); minor: Social & Cultural Analysis
Q: How did you pay for your post-secondary education?
A: HA! I'm still paying for it!!! (School loans are the WORST!)
Q. What was one of your biggest challenges while attending your post-secondary institution?
A: I spent my sophomore & junior years of college juggling 2.5 jobs with a 21-credit course load; I knew that if I didn't keep up at least a 3.3GPA I would lose my scholarship. My parents were unable to sponsor my college experience so I was taking care of myself financially. I was sooooo stressed out, but I couldn't complain to anyone because I was desperate to stay in New York, so I made it work!
Q. Who or what motivated you to continue and get through your postsecondary education?
A: I genuinely believed that a quality education is always a worthy investment. I took as many interesting classes as I could. I joined a variety of clubs and student groups (Student Initiative against AIDS, Academic Achievement Program, Black Students Science Organization, Muslim Students Association, and African Students Union) and took advantage of the networking, field trips, and free food. I leaned on my roommates and friends for support. I checked in with my parents and siblings a couple times a week, and they always supported me and told me how proud they were. Plus, it didn't hurt that I had a lot of classes in common with the man that would later become my husband...
Q: Why did you decide to work in the education field?
A: I was set to go to med school and become a pediatrician, but decided to take a year off to spend time with my mother. I joined AmeriCorps at LAYC and was placed at different schools around DC to teach sexual health. I enjoyed it so much that I signed up for a second year, and I ended up falling in love with youth work and veering off the pediatrics path altogether.
Q: What is your current role at TNSPCS?
A: Case manager
Q: What advice would you give to students interested in continuing to post-secondary education?
A: I have a few pieces of advice:
1-Don't be afraid to ask for help. Closed mouths don't get fed and there's no prize for burning yourself out, so stop choosing to struggle when you're surrounded by people that want to support you!!!
2-Remember to make time for fun & play. There's so much more to life than good grades.
3-Treat EVERYBODY with respect. You never know where your next big break will come from.
4-Self-care is a practice, not a prize. Practice shutting out the noise and listening to YOURSELF first. YOU are the expert of your experience. YOU know what's best for you and YOU will have to live with the consequences of your decisions. Be the first checkpoint for what you need and the last checkpoint for what you do.