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First-Generation Student Eyes PhD, Owning a Business

In advance of Salt Lake Community College’s Nov. 7 celebration of first-generation students, the college is featuring personal stories of its own first-generation students. This is Babi’s story.

Babi Abdalla


Darfur, Sudan

A brief family history:
I was born in a small town in the region of Darfur, located in northern Sudan about 400 miles from the capital, Khartoum. My parents were born in Khartoum and then moved to Darfur. Khartoum is located roughly in the center of the country, at the junction of the Blue Nile and White Nile rivers. It is part of the largest urban area in Sudan. I have two brother and two sisters.

Why others before you haven’t gone to college:
Because of the situation back home - there was civil war for many years.

Why you chose SLCC over other schools:
It has great locations that allow for students to take advantage of Utah's amazing recreation and climate. Salt Lake Community College is a great place to go to school and is a fun environment in which to learn and grow. SLCC is a very good steppingstone on the way to bigger universities.

What you like about SLCC:
It has an awesome tutoring program, and students are willing to help each other achieve goals. Clubs and organizations are an awesome resource to help you with so many things, to get involved and to meet new students.

Favorite memories/experiences so far at SLCC:
The most important and best experiences come from time spent with friends. As you grow up and get in larger classes in high school and college, you become friends with everyone in class. You talk to everyone and know everyone. But still you have your own group with whom you are very close. I’ve had that group of three friends, Adam (General Lee) Babi (Kambal) and Godfrey (who represents all things Africa). The Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs has become my second home. My experiences there inspired me to write a poem called The Beauty of Diversity, which goes like this: “Human is one of a kind, With similarities of a different mind, Complex of any color you can find, See that is the beauty of diversity, Upon we bind, Give greatly as you grow, Just to cause an injury to the world of greed, Alongside love sits the beauty of diversity, Be proud some say, Others say our brothers are in need- watch the beauty of diversity in lead and colored souls we feed.”

What kinds of support have you found for first-generation students:
College leaders and faculty members, including those who are first generation themselves, play a role in the development of policies and practices to help us deal with school challenges. Financial support is necessary for many students, and SLCC’s Trio program is an awesome program that supports low-income and first -generation college students. Faculty members and advisers can play a huge role in the lives of all college students. For first-generation students, they have been the most significant connections students make when it comes to academic success. Finally, my ability to be here at SLCC is the result of a lifetime of support from my family and community.

Dream job:
To become a businessman, maybe president and CEO of Wyndham Destinations resorts or Hilton Vacation Club International.

Plan B:
For my PhD I would study Global Marketing Strategic Operations Management.

Plans after SLCC:
I am planning to transfer to UVU or the University of Utah. I am currently pursuing an associate degree in Business Marketing with an emphasis on Digital Marketing management. When I was younger, I found print advertisements to be fascinating. I loved reading the newspaper with my father just to see the full-page ads in between stories. When I got older though, those ads became less appealing because they were not adaptive. They seemed dated, static and not reflective of changes in society. That’s when I discovered internet marketing. It was still in its infancy when I was in middle school, but by the time I graduated high school it had become a staple in business development. I loved the way internet marketers had to constantly adjust to fit Google’s algorithms, new mobile devices and new audiences. I knew this was the career for me.

The best part about internet marketing is that there is always something new to learn. I can use my creative mind and exploratory nature to try new advertising methods that help businesses succeed. Every time they do well, I do well. This is the kind of job fulfillment most people can only dream of, but my educational plan and job prospects will allow me to achieve it. I look forward to a future where I can use my marketing skills to help business owners achieve their career goals. I plan to spend the first few years after graduation working for a successful, long-standing digital marketing company. After I have enough on-the-job training to feel confident in my abilities, I will open my own business in Sudan where my family lives. I have a clear picture of where I will be in the next five years, and I know this degree is going to help me get there.

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