Discouraged in high school, inspired in college: Renton Tech student earns national honor

A Renton Technical College student who came to this country as a refugee has been honored as one of the top 20 students in the U.S. for academic achievement at a community or technical college.

When he was in high school in South King County, Mohamed Abdullahi says, his counselors never pointed out SAT deadlines or suggested he should be applying for college.

When the Somali refugee tried to get into Running Start, the community-college program that offers college credit to high-school students, a counselor discouraged him from applying — until his mother intervened.

But at Green River College, where Abdullahi first started taking college-level classes, he was challenged in ways that bore no resemblance to his high-school experience.

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And after graduation, when he enrolled in Renton Technical College (RTC) for a computer-science degree, he found a support system that recognized leadership qualities he himself didn’t know he had, and college instructors who encouraged him to get involved — as a tutor and, later, as a student leader.

“There’s this whole momentum behind me,” Abdullahi said. “Before, it seemed like the momentum was in front of me.”

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This month Abdullahi, who is 24, was selected to be on the All-USA Community College Academic Team, recognized as the most prestigious academic honor for students attending a community or technical college. More than 1,800 students were nominated nationwide for the honor, and only 20 were recognized.

As part of that honor, he’ll receive a $5,000 scholarship and attend the American Association of…

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