Zaynab Abdi

Growing up, life was a whirlwind for Zaynab, to put it mildly. By age 17 her family had fled conflicts in Somalia, Yemen, and Egypt. By the end of 2014 Zaynab made it to the U.S. where she enrolled at Wellstone International High School just two days after landing in Minnesota and barely speaking a word of English. She’d already missed two years of school and knew she couldn’t waste any time. By the time she graduated in 2016, she had a 4.0 GPA, was a Valedictorian, President of Student Council, and captain of her soccer team. She also was a leading advocate for Wellstone High School to move buildings in order for her and her classmates to have access to a gym. Beyond academics, Zaynab excelled in other areas of leadership, specifically for refugee women within sports. Zaynab was captain of the first, all immigrant and refugee girls’ soccer team at Wellstone High School and consequently was selected to play at the US Street Soccer Finals in June, 2016 in Philadelphia. Following the launch of the book “Green Card Youth Voices: Immigration Stories from a Minneapolis High School”, of which she is a co-author, in May of 2016, Zaynab became a local celebrity. When Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai came to the Twin Cities in July 2016, Malala asked to meet with young refugee girls and Zaynab was one of them. Two months later Zaynab was invited to represent The Malala Fund at the U.N. General Assembly. Zaynab spent a week in New York speaking at U.N. events and networking with world leaders. Zaynab also is serving as an ambassador for millions of immigrants and refugees around the world, as well as working with the Green Card Voices as Immigrants and Refugees Young Ambassador. Zaynab is now a student at St. Catherine University. She is studying political Science to be a human rights lawyer. She wants to help the refugees and Immigrants around the world have a better life than what she has been through.