Kaddy Suso

Age: 26

Education: Seattle Central College, Associate of Science, 2018

SU Major: Cell and Molecular Biology

Service:

  • Private Math Tutor, 2010–Present

  • Certified Nursing Assistant/MedTech, Aegis Living of Queen Anne on Galer (Assisted Living and Memory Care), Seattle, WA, 2017–Present

  • Certified Nursing Assistant, Paramount Nursing and Rehabilitation, Seattle, WA, 2018

  • Volunteer, Tallinding Upper Basic (Middle) School, Serekunda, The Gambia, 2010–2011

  • Volunteer, Edward Francis Small Teaching hospital, Banjul, The Gambia, 2014

  • Doctor Shadowing, Ahmadiyya Islamic Hospital (surgical units), The Gambia, 2014

Awards/Honors:

  • Alfie Scholars, Seattle University, 2018–2020

  • Seattle Central Completion Scholarship, 2018

  • Commitment Scholarship, Seattle Central, 2018

  • AMES Scholarship, Seattle Central College, 2018

  • Symetra Leadership Scholarship, Seattle Central College, 2017

  • Jill Wakefield Emergency Scholarship Fund, Seattle Central College, 2017

  • Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Seattle Central College, 2017–2018

  • Dean’s List, Seattle Central College, 2016–2018

  • Delsie Holmquist Memorial Scholarship, Minnesota State University Moorhead, 2016

  • 2nd Position (UTG Debate Finals Ambassador’s Championships), University of The Gambia School of Biology, 2011(participated), and 2013 (final)

  • Peer Health Educator (NOVA SCOTIA GAMBIA ASSOCIATION PEER HEALTH EDUCATION), The Gambia, Canadian Chapter, 2005–2006 and 2008–2010

  • Participant in 1st Great Olympiad Mathematics Competition, The Gambia, 2009

  • Assistant Presiding Officer of Independent Electoral Commission, The Gambia, 2011

  • Polling Assistant for Independent Electoral Commission, Gambia, 2012

Goals:

My goals at this point include to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology (Pre-Health). In so doing, I would like to be involved in research, internships, leadership workshops, volunteering and shadowing different doctors before graduation. I would like to acquire great leadership skills with the help of the Alfie Scholars Program and get involved with different community services both in schools and out of school. I would like to prepare adequately for my MCAT exam and be prepared to take my exam few months after my graduation.

As I am also acquiring leadership skills, I would like to open an organization for young girls in my village. I am also prepared to improve my writing skills and grammar; this will give me the chance to start working on my book that I am inspired to write. I am ready to work with all the Alfie Scholars to make our communities a better place for all by educating the younger generations. This may involve going to schools or holding small-group conversations about civility and its impact on the younger generation. My other goals include working on my health, exercising and learning some life-skills I lack, such as learning to swim, drive a car and going out to socialize with people and finally making friends.

Civility:

In my understanding, civility is the ability to treat other the way you would like to be treated. Having consideration, empathy and compassion for other people also contributes to making our souls happy. For example, whenever we treat others well, we usually have this joy of satisfaction within ourselves. Although we all can say that civility is fading away in our current generation, however, change starts with ourselves. Let us look deep down and understand that a little change can go a long way. If we want other people to love, care and show us compassion, it will have to start with ourselves and then pass into our own society.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of every individual to play their part in fostering civility in our everyday lives, be it at work, schools, social places, etc. We must be ready to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. It is our responsibility to teach the new generation about civility, and this starts with us as an example.

Kaddy Suso’s Biography:

Life is full of challenges; however, when taken seriously, they could shape any individual into a fine human. Kaddy Suso, as a young girl, was taken away from her mother and nine siblings to live in a totally new environment due to the lack of a school in her own village in The Gambia. In her new place at the age of eight to nine, Kaddy was subjected to female genital mutilation, a common traditional practice in most African countries. This practice involves the cutting of part or all of the clitoris without any pain medications.

In Dampha Kunda (Kaddy’s new home), she was subjected to hardship under the shadow of her Aunty (her father’s younger sister) at her tender age. She was expected to wake up by the crow of the rooster to work in the garden if she wanted to make it to school. Kaddy was willing to do anything for her education. She held on tightly to her school, not because it was the only place of escape, with little freedom, but because it was her key in the fight to end teenage marriage.

One day, when Kaddy spoke with her uncle Julaba (Kaddy’s father’s younger brother) who lives in Germany, her life was transformed. He advised her to take her education very seriously and said that he would do everything within his power to make her dream a reality. Although she could not explain her living situation to him at that time, he came to find out later in the years later how she was suffering. Julaba was and is still the only person who supports her educational dream in her family. When Julaba learned of her situation, he immediately sent money to bring her back to the city in Serekunda to live with his wife Bintou Jawneh.

In Serekunda, The Gambia, Kaddy was faced with more life challenges than before, but one thing that did not change was her schooling. Since Kaddy had so much work to do before school, she had to get up at 3 AM to do all the house chores before going to school. At around the age of twelve, Kaddy was cooking, cleaning and laundering while her Aunt Bintou would sit and brew atayaa, a type of green tea common in Senegambia. Due to all this, her eighth grade result was very poor. Her uncle called her and was very angry, but she could not tell him why. He said, “I am doing everything in my life to see that one day you will have better life through your education, I have no single saving for myself, I am ready to send you to the best private schools in the country and all you could do is come back home with poor grades for me.” He continued, “If you know you will not work hard in school and study, I will send you back home to your mum and get ready to get marry like everyone else.” This made Kaddy very sad, and she cried the whole day. She knew why her grades were poor, but who would believe her? Those words served as Kaddy’s words of inspiration. Knowing that her uncle was the only one who understood her and not being ready to let him down, she then turned to God, started using every bit of free time she had to study and continued to hide her situation from her uncle with the fear that she might be sent back to her mother whom she didn't know and, worst of all, put a stop to her schooling. For Kaddy, she believed that all her suffering would end one day and hoped that she would be a role model to other young girls in her village. She also hoped to help in the fight to end early marriage. All of Kaddy’s younger sisters were married off while they were teenagers, and now they all have at least two kids.

Kaddy took all her pain as a challenge, and she was not willing to surrender to it. She used these challenges to teach other people around her, especially her friends. In 2010, Kaddy graduated from Glory Baptist Senior Secondary School; she was one of the top two students out of thousands of other students. She did not just become the first in her family, but also in her village to graduate from high school as a girl. However, to Kaddy, this was just the starting point in her life. After graduation, Kaddy devoted her time to teaching sixth grade mathematics in a local middle school for over one year. She believed that every low-income student in that school deserved the best math teacher. She also privately tutored high school math, chemistry and general biology in The Gambia.

In 2015, Kaddy made a remarkable journey to the United States and went to Minnesota State University Moorhead to pursue her dream of becoming a medical doctor. Just after six months later, her uncle, her mother’s brother Kallah, who had paid for her to come to the States, cut off her financial support. He hoped that this would force Kaddy into an arranged marriage back home which he had planned with her parents. Kaddy refused and stated firmly that death would be better for her than to stop her education. With the help of her professor and the community, she was able to complete her first year of school in the biology series, but with a lot of health complications.

In 2016, she came to Seattle to spend the holiday with her Uncle Babucar, a friend of her family. Kaddy suffered from PTSD and depression. She began to receive treatment from Harborview Medical Center. Harborview and her Uncle Babucar helped Kaddy to apply for asylum. Kaddy graduated with an Associate Degree in Science from Seattle Central College while she was working two jobs. During this time, Miss Suso continued being a math tutor for mostly low-income earners in Seattle. Also, working as a certified nursing assistant in a nursing home, Kaddy made it her goal to put a smile on the faces of all her residents, by cracking jokes, hugging and telling a story when she noticed anyone sad and made them feel loved and respected. Kaddy loves her job, and she looks forward to becoming a great doctor one day.

In 2018, Kaddy was admitted to Seattle University in the Cell and Molecular Biology program; she was granted an Alfie scholarship for two years of her studies at SU. Kaddy’s dream of becoming a medical doctor has not faded away. She believes with the help of the Alfie scholarship and the support they provide within the school, she will one day achieve this dream. Kaddy is still ready to work hard towards her goals. She hopes to be an inspiration to all young girls in her community and the world at large.

Advice to the Younger me (Kaddy Suso):

Oh Kaddy Suso, you are an amazing person; you have proved this when you were young. Your journey through life and your perspective of life itself is an inspiration. I applaud you on some of your achievements; however, I would like to give you some pieces of advice that I hope will stay with you forever. Kaddy it is true that your aunt has treated you cruelly; nevertheless, this should not be a reason to separate yourself from the human population. You spend all your time in the farm; you hardly play with any other kids. You have no real friends other than your imaginary ones and your thinking. Singing for the birds did not make you happy; it only distracted you from thinking about your sadness, loneliness and lack of protection from your abuser. Please go out there and have some fun with friends. Make real friends, and this will help you a lot. Kaddy, I like the way you are humble; you are ready to hate things your older family members do not like, but sometimes, you need to say, what about me? Why can’t I do things my way? You hate perfume because they punished you the first time you used it; you refused to learn how to drive just because you are worried about what Bintou will say. Most importantly you refused to convince your uncle why you desperately needed that private English class. For this reason, you were locked into your own bitterness and refused to pay attention in your English class. Please have the courage to speak for yourself. Your uncle Julaba wanted the best for you; maybe if you had spoken, your English grammar wouldn’t have been bad as it is. It is okay to please your people to some extent, but never forget to learn some life-skills. Learn to play different games just like other kids, but most of all you should have tried to live as a child and not let anything take that away from you.

Why Alfie (What does it mean to be an Alfie, Kaddy?):

The first time I heard of Alfie’s scholarship was like this; I was worried about my Seattle University tuition when I sadly went to bed. After waking up I reviewed a phone call from Mallory who said, “Kaddy, could you please apply for this scholarship? The deadline has passed, but I was told that they will review your application by August first.” At that point, the only question I could ask her was “Am I eligible for this scholarship?” And she said, “Yes, I think you are, but please send in the application as soon as possible.” From that day on, even though I was not sure if I would get in, I knew I made the right choice by choosing SU. I was ready to do it, and I said this was my chance. After my acceptance into the program and understanding what the Alfie Program stands for, their determination to work with me and to make sure I get the right funding, I said to myself, this is the family I never had. Everyone is supportive; they are ready to work with me. Everyone in that group has overcome an extraordinarily bumpy road along their way to Seattle University. I feel that I belong and that am not alone. I have all this people who have similar stories to mine, and we are ready to support one another, and that’s is how a family should be. We feel one another’s pain, and most of all, we all want to succeed and make the world a better place for the less fortunate. Therefore, I think when I woke up from my sleep to that phone call, I was answering the call of my new family, a family who will not judge me, a family with lots of mentors that have your best interest at hand. They are a family who are ready to put you into their busy schedule just to see you smile. They are also a family that you can run to when you know it’s too much, and they will guide you better, to help reduce your load and share your burden on your way. What more can I ask for? Nothing, but to be thankful and take my calling as a blessing from God. My whole life, I only had the support of my dad (Uncle Julaba), but now with the Alfie Program, I have a family full of support.