Laila Batar

Laila Batar logged 203 hours in Red Cross Volunteer Connection with an additional 225 hours with other community non-profits in 2019. Laila has been accepted to attend Southern Utah University. The following questions and responses are part of Laila’s the scholarship application.

Describe the service activities you have participated in during the last calendar year. Include all types of service and volunteer work done (Red Cross, community, school, home, etc.).

In the past year I have successfully engaged in several activities that continue to empower me, as well as others. I am actively involved in the Black Student Union. As a devoted co-president, we have been able to foster a strong sense of community for black students through purposeful service projects. Every Sunday, I serve as a third-level Islamic educator. My time as a Sunday school teacher has been most rewarding. Not only because of my religious duties, but watching the light bulb go on in someone’s head brings instant gratification. It is not just about religion; it is about teaching them how to become good citizens in our world. For as long as I can remember, I have been a part of the Somali community here in Utah assisting in the community development and resettling of new Somalis. 

Explain how your volunteer service has made a difference in your school, community, family, etc. Please be specific and use examples of how your service has made an impact:

Volunteering was something that I was taught as a child. My parents raised my siblings and I to value community and citizenship in a new country. My father, who was studying Law in Somalia, decided to join the non-profit sector, making the decision to give back to this community instead of taking a more lucrative path. He and my mother have set the example that we have to always help others get back on their feet. That before you move forward, you must look back and pull someone up. Being able to teach at an Islamic Sunday School, I can help the Muslim youth learn more about the religion. By teaching them the religious principles and guiding them to learn by examples of Islamic history, not only do we promote the religion but good morals. Islam is a religion of peace and being able to teach students how to be kindhearted people is part of being Muslim. 

What issue(s) does your service address and why did you choose to get involved in this type of service?

Growing up in West Valley City was more than I could have hoped for. It is not the ‘big city’ that I anticipate to one day reside in, but it was better than being raised in a war-torn country. Somalia is a country that I have never known, but a country that raised me. My parents would always tell me how beautiful Somalia once was, and I always knew that I would end up back there one day. Somalia has since been a symbol of resilience in humanity. According to the World Health Organization, our health disparities in Somalia are among the lowest in the world. Furthermore, secondary school enrollment is as low as 6%. This often results as steppingstones for declining economic and health outcomes. Making it difficult for both healthcare providers and patients to meet in the middle, these facts serve as my “why.” My goal in life is to go to Somalia and provide humanitarian relief for my people. Being part of the Somali Community is just the first step. I can help families alongside my father, who works for Catholic Community Services and is one of the founders of the Somali Community. The Somali community is the rainbow after the storm, providing the support, and making families smile through the hardest of times.

Describe the service activity that best demonstrates your leadership skills:

As a Somali-American woman, I want to learn the necessary skills to provide resources to my community. Though my journey down this road has just begun, my time at the Red Cross has greatly prepared me for this goal. I once was a timid person, hesitant to speak up. Once I joined the Red Cross, opportunities were endless, and I was given the chance to bring forth change. I became involved with the Red Cross in the summer of 2018. The friendships I made, mentorship that was given, and memories created kept me coming back to the Red Cross. To be selected for Student Staff for the Red Cross High School Leadership Camp (LDC), one of the requirements was to recruit two students to attend the camp, I recruited seven students because camp meant that much to me. Everyone at camp became family. They each had a sentimental story that brought us all together. There was not a day during camp that I did not cry. After being in the Youth Program for one year, I knew I had to be a part of this team. I successfully ran for Co-President of the program which allowed me to use my leadership skills every week. The Red Cross helped shape me into the leader I am today. I have learned that stepping out of your comfort zone is not as bad as it seems

How will this scholarship help you fund your education and help attain your post-high school educational and career goals? Please explain what those goals are:

I was raised in a close tight-knit family. My Grandma Faduma who was my best friend came to live with us in America for more than half of my life. I enjoyed my grandmother’s company, and the wisdom she shared with me. She had many health problems but seeing and helping her get better always brought me joy. The first time I checked someone’s blood pressure was hers. My grandmother sparked my interest in the health field. In 2018, when my grandmother died, it was something I simply could not fathom but even in her last moments all she could do was continue thanking her care givers. She always told me that I had to stay true to my roots, and though I was a Utah girl I had a heart from Africa. It is because of her and my Somali parents that I had the audacity to dream big. This scholarship will help me fund my journey and help me get one step closer to my goals.