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Journey of the Heart

March 18, 2016
Illhan Eeda

Ilhan Eeda’s only memory of her home country of Somalia is of the night she fled in 1993. Her father had just been killed by rebel soldiers embroiled in the country’s civil war, and a four-year-old Ilhan vividly recalls a cramped van ride to Kenya down a dusty road paved with emaciated lions. The road led Ilhan to a months-long stay in an abandoned warehouse owned by a violent man her grandfather knew, to five years of dwelling in a mud hut in a Kenyan refugee camp, and ultimately to a new and uncertain future half a world away in the United States.

Her early years in the US were rocky, but Ilhan eventually made many friends and found a passion for helping others as a phlebotomist at Intermountain Healthcare.

She thought that was enough for her until she learned about the Venture Course in the Humanities, a free two-semester course that introduces people living on low incomes to a variety of humanities courses. Venture led Ilhan to the nursing program at Westminster, and through generous scholarship grants, Ilhan will graduate from Westminster in 2017 without student loan debt.

Read more about her remarkable story and what she has planned for the future in the current issue of the Westminster Review.