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URGO Student Spotlight | Abdulkadir Sharif ’20

Abdul graduated from Augsburg in 2020 with a degree in Political Science and International Relations. He is Augsburg’s first winner of the Pickering Fellowship. Only 45 students in the country receive the Pickering each year. He is also a Fulbright recipient and participated in the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship at Princeton University.

Abdulkadir Sharif '20 poses for a headshot in
Abdulkadir Sharif ’20

“I came into Augsburg knowing I was going to major in international affairs and political science, but the study abroad opportunity in Tanzania, being in rural Tanzania learning a language and being with a cohort of other students who were just as passionate about the language and about international affairs, was what really propelled me to take up other opportunities when I returned,” said Abdul.

Through URGO, Abdul was awarded a David L. Boren Scholarship to study in Swahili in Tanzania in 2018. He also received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study in South Africa and Namibia in 2019. While in Namibia, he interned with the Namibia Institute for Democracy as a research assistant focusing on civic engagement and anti-corruption mechanisms in the country.

“They took us to South Africa, which has a lot of south Asian – especially Malaysian and Indonesian – influence, especially in Cape Town,” said Abdul. “In both programs, I also met a Fulbright scholar, so that’s how I learned the on-the-ground real realities of what you need to be a Fulbright student.”

Abdul used URGO resources to apply for the Fulbright award.

“There’s a way to articulate yourself and show experiences necessary to be a Fulbright student. Instead of you being alone and just applying and submitting something, URGO took the time – almost five months – of working on this application. We also had campus interviews with Augsburg faculty and staff to see ‘why are you doing this, why are you passionate about this.’ That was all really helpful with the process.”

Abdul will go to rural Malaysia as an English teaching assistant to teach secondary school students through the Fulbright program. As a refugee from Kenya who speaks multiple languages, Abdul understands the challenges and rewards of learning a second language and is excited to provide his Malaysian students with skills to be change agents in their communities.

Abdul hopes to one day pursue a career in international development, focusing on economic advancement.