Moving to the United States of America
When my family found out that we were going to the United States of America, there was an organization called IOM that posted the people that were approved and were going on their wall. We used to go to the wall often to see if we were posted. One day, one of my family members found out that we were posted. She came home running and screaming and happy, saying, “We are leaving in nine days!” I was in eighth grade. We were supposed to leave on Monday, but I had final exams on Wednesday—I was more worried about passing my exams than I was about leaving. I was ready for my exams, just in case someone told us that we were not going to America. I didn’t want to waste a whole school year—I didn’t want to waste my education.
When we left, we had to go to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. We then went to Bole International Airport, then to Amsterdam. I remember we had this huge IOM bag, and because nobody in my family spoke English, there were people to guide us at every airport that looked for the IOM bags. We sat at Amsterdam for six hours, and it felt like a really, really long time. Finally we came to New York. The thing that struck me the most was that the flight attendants were smiling the whole time. Where I grew up, you don’t really smile as much, especially to strangers. It was kind of weird—I wondered why they were smiling.
STEM Education and Career
When I was going to high school, I had a teacher called Dr. Claire Hypolite. She has a bachelor’s and a PhD in chemical engineering, but she specifically chose to teach at that high school because she felt that’s where she could make a difference. One day she came to me, and she said, “Hey Fadumo, what do you want to be?” And I was like, “Oh, I’m going to become a doctor because that’s kind of the only thing that I have ever wanted.” I knew I wanted to do health studies and make a difference. Then one day she told me, “Hey, I’m starting this after-school program called ‘Invention Club.’ You can come and invent whatever you want, and I will give you resources.”
Dr. Hypolite introduced me to the world of the medical device industry and told me about one specific company. She taught me how to do research, read research papers, write research papers in MLA format, and more. By the end of that project, I was like, “I want to do this.” When I got my bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, my first job out of college was actually the company she told me about. While working there, I got accepted to master’s degree program for mechanical engineering. Dr. Hypolite opened my mind to the world of STEM, particularly to the world of medical devices. She opened my eyes to the endless possibilities in this world, and to the many different ways that I could make a difference and contribute to humanity.
Contributions and Impact
I work in the medical device industry as a product/process development engineer, which is an interface between the research and development and the manufacturing of medical devices. My contribution is to get new technologies and devices that can help people into the market by helping with the design of the new technologies, taking a design or concept and figuring out how to make that technology, and what materials to make it from. I also sometimes test devices and write reports required by regulatory bodies.
I love writing: I write Somali poems and short stories. I have a novel coming out this summer called Ayan, of the Lucky. People can reach out to me, find out more about me and my writing, and read some of my writings on my blog at fadumoyusuf.com.