The Edsel Ford High School senior Marwa Albaadani came home one December day after taking her Math final exam at Henry Ford College dual enrollment class and checked her email to see one titled “Application Status” from Harvard. Marwa in her words ‘froze up’ and opened their email knowing their low acceptance rate, and perhaps expecting a rejection or “processing” message. To her major surprise, the email read, “Congratulations, Marwa, you’re accepted!”.
By Adel A. Mozip
The Yemeni American News
Marwa was born in Yemen in early 2000 and migrated to the U.S. in 2004 from the town of Baadan, Ibb, Yemen with her family of 4 siblings; one older brother and two younger sisters. She was enrolled in pre-school at Salina Elementary and later attended Salina Intermediate School. In her last year at Salina, she applied for the Dearborn Center for Math, Science, and Technology (DCMST) and got accepted. When asked about her beginnings, she responds, “I’m just a girl who took a risk and was blessed enough to be rewarded by it because of the way I’ve been conditioned by my family, school, and environment to be ready to receive it.”
Asking Marwa on what the acceptance to Harvard means to her and to her family she says “this means a great deal to me and my family because even though success isn’t measured by which school accepts you, this acceptance certainly distinguished me and let my family know that my work didn’t go unrecognized.”
Marwa as many other Yemeni American young women, she appreciates her family oriented environment and the family’s support. “My mom encouraged me every time I began to doubt myself and my dad drove me to the college every tuesday and thursday evening since the beginning of my junior year, and to Farmington Hills and back, a 45 minute drive away, every weekday for eight weeks for a co-op I was participating in, and my older brother, Nadim, set most of the academic precedents that I followed, such as going to DCMST, following the STEM route, always being on top of things, recently being the first in our family to get a degree, and in record time.”
Marwa is grateful to everyone who helped her along the way, especially her teachers. “I’ve had the pleasure of having the same few [teachers] for multiple semesters and eventually got close enough to them to be on a friendly basis. Beyond being there for me academically, they’ve encouraged me and helped me see my strengths, and continue to advise me about college admissions, career paths, and life in general” says Marwa.
She also doesn’t forget her colleagues at DCMST who in her words never hesitated to help anytime she was struggling, and even when college season came around, they would go out of their way to lend a hand. She explains, “they let me bounce ideas off of them for essays, helped me revise, and gave me the confidence to even apply to an Ivy League school; one of them even used to go out of her way to meet me whenever I needed to study and would keep my spirits up during the hardest days of junior year. They’re a group of the smartest and kindest kids I’ve ever met and been part of their peer group definitely helped steer me in the direction I’m in.”
When asked about the time spent on her application to Ivy League schools like Harvard, Marwa replies “applying to any college is a four-year process. It all comes down to how much work you were willing to put in beforehand so that when it’s time to fill out applications, you can present yourself in the best possible light. Personally, I know that being in school is an opportunity not everyone receives and I always want to make the most of it; I have a family that cares, teachers that care, and classmates that care, so I always try to put my best foot forward with anything that I do, and following through with that is the biggest part of shaping yourself into someone you’ll be proud of presenting to any college.”
Marwa is determined to be successful in the best-ranked college in America. Asking her about what major will she be pursuing she said “since I go to DCMST, I’ve been exposed to enough STEM enough to appreciate everything that branches out from it, and even though I don’t know what my exact major will be (I change my mind on this daily), I know it’ll definitely be somewhere within that scope. The reason I’m set on STEM [(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)] is that within science, technology, engineering, and math careers, I know I would never stop learning or thinking, and whatever I end up doing for a living won’t be menial, which is exciting even to consider.” Looking 10 years further, she answers “My plans after college are very vague at the moment but I know I’ll want to be working somewhere where I can apply whatever I learned. It’s scary to look that far into the future but the most I can do is do my best work until then and hope for the best.”
Marwa’s father, Fuad Albaadani was as excited about the news as his daughter. “The news was the happiest news I received in a long time.” He describes Marwa’s personality as very outgoing and when it comes to school, he said she loves help everyone around her. “She’s a cheerful and bright young lady, always putting in the most possible effort into things— even if they might be a little late.” He tells the Yemeni American News that his hope is that she continues from this accomplishment to even more to come.
Dr. Glenn Malyeko, Superintendent of Dearborn Public Schools congratulated Marwa and her family for this outstanding accomplishment. He said to the Yemeni American News “I wish her all the best as she finishes her senior year and prepares for this awesome experience to attend Harvard University. On behalf of our Administration, Board of Education and our faculty, we are very proud of her along with all of our students who have or will achieve a high level success after they graduate. We know that Marwa and her family deserve the credit for this accomplishment.”
He touted Dearborn Public Schools for preparing students like Marwa to be accepted into Ivy League Colleges. He affirms saying “Marwa’s acceptance at Harvard is also an example of how Dearborn Public Schools provides a high level of academic options to meet the needs of all students including our high achievers. We provide our students with Advanced Placement classes along with Dual Enrollment opportunities (at no cost to our students) in order to promote enrollment at Ivy League schools or other highly regarded Universities. In addition, we have an outstanding teaching faculty that challenges our students to achieve at high levels. Marwa has recognized this as she mentioned the positive influence that one of her teachers Mrs. Shawver had on her academic achievement. We are also very proud of Mrs. Shawver and our outstanding teaching faculty that is very dedicated to meeting the needs of each and every student.”
The Yemeni American News asked Marwa to give high school freshmen class on how to get into an Ivy League college and she happily explained I would tell high school freshmen to seize every opportunity they have to succeed and not to give in to peer pressure or sources of instant gratification. I would tell them to learn to manage their time because 24 hours is more than enough time to fulfill their school obligations and keep up with extracurriculars and their social lives if they the focus, and finally that they should never underestimate their abilities: you can do anything if you dare to work for it, and if going to an Ivy League is part of your dream, be ready to work for it and it’s definitely within reach.”
The Yemeni American News congratulates Marwa and her family on this major accomplishment and wishes her the best in her college and professional career.