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Celebrating the Women of Compass: Ijabo Hassan

Ijabo Hassan has been working for Compass Group since September 2017. She and her husband are raising four children under the age of 11. Education and honoring their culture are at the center of their home. Below, Ijabo shares why respecting the backgrounds of every individual is so important.

Why do you think it’s important that we celebrate International Women’s Day?
These kind of days or months that celebrate a specific group help us to understand where we all share struggles and success. We don’t know what other people go through. It is good to take the time to learn so we can understand each other and honor our diversity. As I reflected on African American history during Black History Month, I was reminded of my own struggles when I moved to this country and I couldn’t speak English. I was born in Somalia and grew up in Kenya. I moved here with the International Rescue Committee for a better life.

Who inspired you along this journey?
One of my teachers at the Islamic center I attended after school was definitely one of the most inspiring people in my life. I used to go there to get help with my homework. I would get frustrated with the work, but my teacher always told me I could do it. My teacher believed in me. I would stay after school to get extra help. I wasn’t working during that time. Instead, I was focusing on learning. Thank you to the teachers who make a difference.

Now I am focusing on helping my kids have a better education and a better life. I love to help them study. I want them to study hard and go to college. I want them to get a scholarship. That’s why I’m working. Me and my husband have four kids and all of our work is for them. It’s a busy house!

How do you keep the traditions of your background alive?
I love to cook traditional Somali food for my family. Our favorite is Somali Sombusa. It is a triangle-shaped pastry that is stuffed with different fillings. They are very popular during Ramadan. They are so delicious. We love it!

What advice do you have for women who are working to overcome the struggle of coming to this country?
If you have a dream, go for it! Always try your best and do not give up. It is not always easy, especially if you are also taking care of a family at the same time, but you will be so proud of yourself when you make the dream come true. I had to wait a long time for some of my goals and dreams to become a reality, but it’s worth it.

When I first came to this country, I did not know how to ask for help or communicate with people, but I did not give up. I worked hard. By the time I graduated from high school, I was in the National Honor Society. Walking across the graduation stage was an amazing experience for me after overcoming so many struggles. There were times that were very hard, but I am so thankful I did not give up. You have to work hard and be patient. Trust yourself; that is important.

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