Q and A with Asha Mohamed, Education Specialist for Seattle Housing Authority at Yesler Terrace

Asha Mohamed

Asha means hope in Hindu and love in Somali, which says a lot about what Asha Mohamed brings to her role at Yesler Terrace.

Banter and sass. That's the approach Asha Mohamed takes to get things done. As an educational specialist for the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) at Yesler Terrace, Mohamed works closely with the Seattle University Youth Initiative and other community partners to help children succeed in school.

Here's what she says about her work with the community and SU.

Arrow When you joined SHA four years ago, you started to engage low-income refugee and immigrant families in discussions about their strengths. What did you discover? 

GreenArrow When we asked Yesler Terrace residents what they did best, they said "clean and babysit." There were only three child-care providers at the time. There are 30 now. And one of our residents launched a janitorial company. Now they not only make a livable wage but also are contributing members of society.

Arrow Why did you make a conscious decision to meet with people rather than survey them? 

GreenArrow Door knocking is the only way. With surveys, the children have to serve as interpreters so parents can't really voice their concerns. We wanted to know what it would take for a Yesler Terrace child to be successful academically.

Arrow What did you learn? 

GreenArrow Yesler Terrace parents not only don't know their parental rights, they don't know what higher education looks like. They don't know who their allies are in their child's education. Now we meet every Tuesday at 6 p.m., usually about 30 parents with their families.

Arrow Is it true Seattle University President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., came to one of your meetings? 

GreenArrow Yes, Father Steve came and asked a question: "What do you know about Seattle University's Youth Initiative?" One of the elders answered him with this question: "What do you know about Yesler Terrace?" It was such a great learning moment for us all. Father Steve listened, took it all in, processed it and he came back a second time, too.

Arrow How do you partner with Seattle University and community groups to cultivate that unity? 

GreenArrow SU took a leadership role in a volunteer effort to renovate Neighborhood House–Yesler Terrace Head Start recently and it catapulted from there. We all have a small piece as we work toward the same goal. It's all about doing and we're doing it.

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May

Red Arrow_png International Photo Competition 2013 Exhibit
Kinsey Gallery, Admissions Bldg.
Through May 24, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Mon.–Fri.

Red Arrow_png Lunchtime Scholar Series
Hunthausen Hall, ROOM 100
May 24, 12:15 to 1:30 p.m.

June

Red Arrow_png Student Chamber Music Spring Concert
Pigott Auditorium
June 6, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Red Arrow_png Day of Learning: An On-campus Experience for Older Adults
Pigott Building
June 19, 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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