Connect at career fair

Kadija Hussen
Kadija Hussen / Marc Studer photo

By Lisa Craze
Kadija Hussen is a young woman empowered. In just three years, the junior at the University of Washington Bothell has served in student government as director of academic affairs, has been president of the African Student Association and was selected to intern with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. She also traveled to India in 2018 as part of the university’s study abroad program.

“When I look back, I’m surprised by how much I’ve achieved here,” she said.

Hussen’s surprise comes in part from the fact that when she was in high school, UW Bothell wasn’t even on the list of colleges she was considering. But it rose to the top after a connection she made at a career day event on campus co-sponsored by Young Women Empowered (Y-WE).

Finding community

That day, Hussen met Annette Anderson, UW Bothell’s director of curriculum and a Y-WE board member since 2016. Anderson was there to talk with the diverse group of young women about possibilities for them on campus and to learn about their lives and concerns.

Hussen recalls being quite moved by her initial conversation with Anderson. “It was the way she looked at me when she was talking to me,” said Hussen. “Her face showed her concern and support.”

That conversation, she said, made her feel heard and understood — and convinced her to apply to UW Bothell.

Anderson knows of five or six “Y-WE-ers” who enrolled at UW Bothell after attending the career fair, three of whom graduated recently. “The girls all know each other,” said Anderson. “They kind of look out for one another.”

Anderson also believes the small community feel on campus helps foster a supportive and safe space for these young women, many who are first-generation students from diverse cultures.

Paying it forward

Hussen expects to graduate next spring with a major in Law, Economics & Public Policy and a minor in Global Studies. She has plans to earn a master’s degree in Washington, D.C., in public policy and law with a focus on immigration and education.

While at UW Bothell, Hussen has also worked with Anderson on a number of projects through Y-WE, impressing Anderson with her abilities. “I had the opportunity to experience Kadija’s leadership at Y-WE events in past years where she was a speaker and/or panelist,” Anderson said. “It became apparent to participants and Y-WE staff that Kadija has a powerful voice.”

Hussen’s voice was also heard last month at Y-WE’s “Ignite” fundraising event where she served as keynote speaker. Her address was described as “confident, committed and courageous” by attendees.

On Saturday, April 27, UW Bothell and Y-WE, along with Cascadia College, will once again sponsor a career event to introduce young women and female-identified youth to educational and career opportunities in a supportive, engaging and energetic environment. Keynote speakers at this year’s event include lawyer and activist Nikkita Oliver, pediatrician Anisa Ibrahim and artist Aramis Hamer.

Anderson and Hussen will also be attending as mentors, encouraging a new group of young women to expand their horizons on campus.

Hussen says she looks forward to her role. “My intention is to be there for younger women and to encourage them to face their fears and not be scared,” she said. “I want to be a shoulder to lean on for them.”

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