Emily & Sanaa

When she was 15, Sanaa’s family immigrated to the United States from Jordan, a journey that began when they fled Sudan as refugees years before.

Sanaa’s parents fought hard to offer her stability and a future full of opportunities. In their eyes, Sanaa would attend a college close to home and one day become a doctor or lawyer.

Sanaa dreamed of a different future for herself and worried if it would come true. She wanted to go away to college and pursue her creative interests, and turned to her mentor Emily for advice on how to navigate this conversation with her parents. Emily helped Sanaa understand her parents’ sacrifices and their vision for her future. Emily also identified a compromise that could appeal to Sanaa’s parents - pairing Sanaa’s art major with a business minor. To help assuage Sanaa’s parents concerns, Emily went to dinner with Sanaa's family and shared her own college experiences.

Sanaa is now a college freshman, and is loving her first year at Ithaca College where she is majoring in Cinema and Photography.

“It’s wonderful here, beautiful with all the trees. Even though I’m wearing a headscarf, I feel confident walking around because people are open-minded. I tell Emily every time I join something – the cycling program, the school magazine as a photographer, the info session I went to on studying abroad. It’s so nice to have someone who reaches out and checks how I’m doing.”