Class of 2018: Portland High School grad goes from refugee camp to studying medicine

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PORTLAND — Habso Omane was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and now has the chance to study biochemistry at Smith College.

Omane will graduate from Portland High School at 10:30 a.m. on June 6 and said science and chemistry are her favorite classes.

She’s the second sibling in a family of six and came to the United States in 2006. Her older brother is a student at Union College; Omane said that attending college is something that’s “become expected in my family.”

Omane said being able to provide their children with a quality education was one of the reasons her parents wanted to come to the U.S. Another is that her family is Somalian, and there’s a large Somalian community in the state.

Her mother, Shamso Abdulle, works at Mercy Hospital and Omane has spent the past three summers volunteering at Maine Medical Center. She said she enjoyed the geriatrics rotation the best because the seniors she cared for provided “prospective and good life advice,” and plans to attend medical school after college.

Omane also works part-time at Staples and is a teen teacher with the Summer of Science program offered through 4-H and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

In high school Omane immersed herself in just about everything the school had to offer, from being a member of the Civil Rights Team and the International Club to working on the Racquet, the school’s arts and literary magazine.

“The Racquet was really not my forte, but it was fun and interesting,” Omane said. She’s also a member of the National Honor Society and the 4-H Club.

At Smith, Omane hopes to join the Muslim Student Organization and continue her advocacy for civil rights, particularly in terms of “the double standard when it comes to gender. I really care about civil rights and I always find it so interesting to talk with others about our cultural differences.”

Omane initially thought attending an all-women’s college like Smith was “a little odd,” but after doing more research decided ” I like that it’s a women’s college with a lot of opportunities.”

It’s also a place “where there will be a certain level of security in finding my own voice,” Omane said.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Hasmo Omane, who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and is graduating from Portland High School next week, plans to become a doctor, maybe even a neurosurgeon.