Zamzam Abdirahman had quite the senior year at .
But for the soon-to-be freshman at the University of Minnesota, the best appears to be ahead.
Abdirahman plans to work on her pre-med requirements at the university next year, with designs on later going to medical school and—eventually—practicing in Africa.
"I think that’s the area that most needs help," she said.
Abdirahman would know—she was born in Somalia and lived there for about six years. She talks frequently with family back home, and while they're OK these days, she hears stories about others in the country who struggle to find food and water. Last summer, she got a closer look at the situation when she worked with the American Refugee Committee.
“It’s really tragic," Abdirahman said. "I’m hoping to go back there and help as much as possible.”
Abdirahman's desire to be a doctor—and help others—started at a young age.
“(When) I was young ... I would play doctor with my sister," she said. "I’ve always wanted to help a lot of people out.”
Children First coordinator Karen Atkinson, who nominated Abdirahman for the Caring Youth award, said she's seen Abdirahman's positive impact up close.
"Zamzam has been a great resource and leader in the St. Louis Park community," Atkinson said.
Atkinson said Abdirahman really stood out while working on two different projects. First was an Asset Champions Fair, where Children First brought together people from a wide-range of St. Louis Park organizations. Abdirahman helped strategize about the fair, wrote the marketing piece and helped at the event, Atkinson said.
The second was a "5 words" photo exhibit. Abdirahman, along with fellow Children First co-chair Bria Evans, developed a project where adults and youth alike were asked to share one of the "40 Developmental Assets," which are character-building traits, in five words. Abdirahman and Evans took photos of people holding signs with their five words.
"Zamzam was hard working, taking and retaking photos to get them just right," Atkinson said. "I think she would tell you, she entered the project taking pictures and after the project she was a photographer."
That kind of work ethic should serve Abdirahman well as she transitions into the next phase of her life. While she said it's "bittersweet" leaving St. Louis Park High School behind, Abdirahman said she is ready for college.
“I’m excited," she said. “I’m hoping to see what’s out there.”