Born in a small city in Ethiopia, Jamal Aw Yoonis’ family fled when civil war broke out in 1984. Since that time, they have lived as nomads, tending animals on the fringes of cities throughout northern Africa. At the age of five, Jamaal left his family and moved under the care of his cousin in Somaliland to begin his education. In middle school, Jamal was selected as one of just 45 students to attend the prestigious Abaarso School. He rose to 6th best student in the school, granting him a scholarship to attend private school in the U.S.
He chose Church Farm School based on its diversity. At first, living outside of Philadelphia was a challenge, Jamal says—the different food, people, culture and especially the weather. “The first time it snowed, it was hard to go outside. I couldn’t get warm even with many layers. I got sick a lot.” By the second year, Jamal really loved it here. “It’s a small school, but a big space for us.” His favorite experiences at CFS were running track and talking to his friends in the cottage about their unique ideas and culture. He is set to graduate from Berea College in May 2020, where he will go on to a prestigious position at Dell in Silicon Valley.
At Berea, Jamal pursued his passion for technology, coding and building web applications, majoring in computer science and math. “I love to build models that can help me to explain some real-world concepts that are too abstract to understand.” In addition to building web applications for Berea, Jamal spent the summer of his junior year at Dell EMC as a software engineer. “I worked on some amazing projects and gained both technical and soft skills. It was great chance for me to discover myself and also enhance my professional skills. I also worked with some amazing people who challenged and helped me along the way.”