In the years leading up to her commencement celebration, Malaz Aliomer faced challenging circumstances: the death of her parents in quick succession due to heart attack and cancer; the subsequent task of raising her three younger siblings; and the more recent demands of raising her own daughter with her husband.
Aliomer persisted, remaining focused on balancing school, family life, and finding her voice at the University of Iowa.
“It was my father’s dream to see me graduate from college,” says Aliomer, who will walk across the stage to receive her Iowa diploma in December 2022. “I wanted to do this for him, my family, and myself.”
Born in Sudan, Aliomer moved around often before settling in Iowa City. The area had a lot to offer: family connections, the large Sudanese community, the high quality of life, the low crime rate, and excellent educational opportunities. The University of Iowa held plenty of appeal for an aspiring student who had so many responsibilities at home.
“Iowa’s campus is close to where I live. I also like the flexibility of taking online classes,” says Aliomer.
Despite the positives, Aliomer had some reservations. She was nervous about the size of her classes, and with English not being her first language, she feared she might hesitate to share her ideas or ask questions during class.
These fears were soon put to rest. Aliomer’s classes were small. She felt confident engaging with her professors and classmates. Aliomer flourished in the close-knit atmosphere offered at Iowa. She learned more about prospective fields and discovered her true calling.
“I originally wanted to be a teacher but realized I didn’t want to be in a traditional classroom setting. But my goal to work with kids was still the same,” Aliomer says. “After taking the Educational Psychology and Measurement class, I knew for sure what I wanted to do. That’s a major accomplishment, to finally figure out your purpose.”
Aliomer will graduate from the College of Education with a BA in education studies and human relations—a relatively new major at Iowa, making its debut just a couple of years ago. The program prepares students for education professions outside of teaching, which was a great fit for Aliomer.
“My academic advisor introduced me to this major,” Aliomer says. “I love it because of its flexibility and variety of career possibilities.”
Aliomer is excited to apply the skills she acquired at Iowa to help others. When she looks back at all her experiences at Iowa, one person sticks out as a strong mentor who helped keep her motivated: Mitchell Kelly, clinical professor of educational psychology.
“His class helped solidify my confidence in knowing what I wanted to do and that I was in the right major,” Aliomer says. “He was always there for me.”