More than 20 years ago, Dia Mohamed’s parents made a hard choice so that Dia and his five younger siblings could face easier ones. They left their home in Sudan and moved thousands of miles to the city of Aurora, Colorado.
Dia, now a senior at the University of Denver studying Biology, has taken the DU experience to a new level. Aside from great academic achievements, Dia has honed his leadership skills through a variety of activities on campus. For the past four years as a Pioneer, he has been a part of the Latino Student Alliance, Black Student Alliance, Undergraduate Student Government, Pre-Med Health Club, Asian Student Alliance, & the Muslim Student Alliance.
Dia has been an exceptional and integral asset to the understanding of inclusive excellence at the University of Denver. From his substantial involvement in student organizations and clubs, to participation in Diversity retreats and conferences, Dia is a model representation of what an inclusive climate where all members are respected and their contributions valued looks like.
“When I was in High School, I was around a lot of people who were like me, so I didn’t receive that much feedback on how I look, how I act or how I dress, but coming to college you see those differences and that makes you want to learn more about your culture. I grew up in such a sheltered home that attending DU has helped me improve my knowledge of other cultures as well as my own.”
He chose to earn a degree from the University of Denver not only because it was close to his family, but because it’s one of the top private universities in the state. His mother encouraged him to apply despite the financial concerns Dia had. Luckily, his high school counselors informed him of the Daniels Fund Scholarship and advised him to apply. He was granted the scholarship for his four years and credits his decision to attend to DU to his mother and counselors.
“I can’t imagine having attended any other school. A lot of my friends from high school went to schools where they’re not challenged, whether that be academically or culturally, so I feel like they’re deprived of that certain challenge.”
Dia says his experience at DU has been one of a kind. Where else would he have gotten the opportunity to be on the cover of the New York Times, the Denver Post and other international newspapers? During his junior year, Dia was selected to be a stand-in for President Barack Obama at the presidential debate in Magness Arena. He was able to participate in a rehearsal for the debate and was asked to respond to the same questions President Obama and Mitt Romney would be asked during the actual debate.
“It was an amazing moment. I was getting calls from newspapers in Sudan and Australia asking me about the experience. I couldn’t believe it. Seeing me on the cover of the New York Times was surreal. My parents were ecstatic and crying- I had met President Obama the year before at the Auraria Campus and took a picture with him so I already felt a strong connection to him. It’s just unbelievable I was a part of it. I have pictures to show my kids one day!”
Dia shares that although he did experience some challenging moments during his time at DU with numerous late night study sessions, feeling overwhelmed and tired, in the end, it’s because of the hard work he’s put forth at DU that he now feels prepared and ready for what’s to come post-graduation. It’s about using the resources and taking the opportunities DU offers to its many students.
“I can’t say I will miss the homework once I graduate, but I’ll definitely miss DU.”