As our school year nears its end, YCCS is celebrating new beginnings for many of our students. One student at our Truman Middle College campus, Liiboon Geelle, has had an especially challenging new beginning. A Somali refugee, Liiboon left his country after the violent death of his father, leaving behind his mother and young sister, to seek an education to fulfill his dream of becoming an investigative journalist.
After experiencing the trauma of his father’s death, Liiboon traveled alone, first through Africa, then to South and Central America, always moving closer and closer to his ultimate goal of the United States. In 2015, he sought asylum in the U.S. and came to Chicago – without money, clothing or a place to stay. His goal in Chicago was to find a safe place to live and go to school. He was referred to an immigration agency where he met Br. Michael, of Viator House of Hospitality, who found him an interim place to reside. Br. Michael brought Liiboon to Truman Middle College where he was welcomed by Mr. Antoine Brown, (TMC’s Dean). Liiboon knew immediately that “this was where I would be able to learn.”
As a small alternative high school, Truman Middle College provided Liiboon with the personalized support he needed to succeed in English and core subjects as well the opportunity to gain workforce certifications that led him to an internship in the early childcare program at Truman College sponsored by one of Truman Middle College’s partners, the Alternative Schools Network, which implements the Streets Pathways Career Initiative at YCCS campuses.
Since coming to Truman Middle College, Liiboon has shared his story of his incredible migration to our nation and city with other students and organizations throughout the Chicago area. Most recently, he shared his positive attitude with students from St. Viator High School, encouraging them to study and believe in themselves as they journey through life. Liiboon also shared his powerful story at the spring gathering of Ignatian Volunteer Corps, another Truman Middle College partnership, which provides literacy and ESL tutoring to students.
Liiboon still has that dream of being an investigative reporter. His education at YCCS has given him a strong foundation to further his studies. Liiboon’s story is a personal testament that life’s journey has no boundaries. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him studying soon at a premier university journalism school.