MPH graduate Nafisa Absher

Master's degree a family first for Absher

Before they came to Canada, Nafisa Absher’s family spent years moving through the Middle East in search of a home.

By HenryTye Glazebrook

Though her upbringing was steeped in Somali culture, Absher and her siblings have never set foot in the country in which their roots lay. Instead, their formative years were spread across Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Syria before they were able to secure a permanent home in Canada.

And through it all, the then-13 year-old Absher gained a profound appreciation for the single mother who strained and toiled ceaselessly to give her children opportunities that she never had.

“My mom worked really hard to make sure that, even though things were difficult, we never felt like we were living in poverty or being discriminated against,” said the University of Saskatchewan master’s student. “She always made sure that we were comfortable and felt like we were at home.

“Now that I’m older and have talked to her, I’m realizing that the stuff she’s been through is beyond my mind. I feel so grateful for my mom to have gone through all that for us to be here, and for me to sit here today and say I’m getting my master’s and I’m the first woman in my family to attain post-secondary education.”

Absher’s family found a home in Regina, where she attended high school and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Regina. From there, she looked to the U of S as the place where she could pursue her master’s in the School of Public Health, without straying too far from the family she holds so dear. “I’ve always had a passion to improve the health of marginalized communities with an integrative approach, and I wanted to pursue a career that would enable me to address health inequities from a population level,” said Absher, who completed the Master of Public Health program this year and received her degree at spring convocation.

Read the full story here.