Recent Graduate Named Passport to Prosperity Emerging Leader

Posted 11/10/2020
Mohamed Sharif

​​Mohamed Sharif, a 2020 DMACC graduate, has been recognized as a 2020 Passport to Prosperity Emerging Leader recipient by the Iowa International Center. Sharif spent 13 years in refugee camps in Kenya before he and his family came to the United States.   

​Mohamed Sharif Recognized During Recent Virtual Gala

  • Mohamed Sharif lived in refugee camps in Kenya for 13 years.

  • Sharif said the deplorable conditions included a lack of ample food or water, and wild animals close by.

  • ​​Sharif earned a Business Information Systems degree from DMACC, along with C++ and Mobile App Developer certificates. 

Recent DMACC graduate Mohamed Sharif has been named a 2020 Passport to Prosperity Emerging Leader Award recipient by the Iowa International Center. The Emerging Leader Award recognizes the dedication and hard work of immigrant and refugee youth as they help their family and community transition to a successful life in Iowa.

Sharif, a refugee from Somalia, is one of five Iowans who were recently honored during a special virtual ceremony.

The honorees were:

  • Samuel Gabriel

  • Tijana Kudmovic

  • Abigail Sui

  • James Suong

  • ​Mohamed Sharif

Sharif graduated from the DMACC Business Information Systems (BIS) Program in May of 2020, and also earned C++ and Mobile App Developer certificates. He also continues to work as a part-time employee in DMACC's Tech Support Help Desk area.

Sharif, who now lives in Des Moines, came to the United States after stays in multiple refugee camps in Kenya. He said his mom moved to the refugee camps in 1990 to get away from the civil war happening in Somalia, and that life in the camps was hard. 

“People were always hungry; sometimes we didn't eat for days," Sharif said. “Some kids didn't survive due to illness and malnourishment. Some days you would get something to eat, and some nights you would go to bed hungry. The sun was always hot, and there was no steady supply of water, ever."

Sharif also said there were many wild animals out during both the day and at night.

“My siblings were young, so I used to watch them while my mom went out to work to find some food that we could eat," said Sharif, whose mom was the single mother of four children.

He said his family started going through the process of coming to the United States in 2008 and eventually arrived in Idaho in 2010.  When they arrived in the United States, Sharif said his mom didn't know anyone in Idaho, but did know a friend that lived in the refugee camp and had been relocated to Des Moines. They then moved to Des Moines.

Sharif said he stayed at the refugee camps for 13 years. He worked hard to catch up academically with his peers, graduated from Des Moines Roosevelt High School and then enrolled at DMACC.

Sharif was nominated for the Emerging Leader award by DMACC Community and Global Engagement Director Dr. Ahmed Agyeman, with letters of recommendation from DMACC Technical Support Supervisor Craig Brown; the organization PI515, which works to expose a diverse group of students to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills; and OneVoice DSM, a local non-profit set up to engage the African community in the Des Moines area.

“It was an honor to nominate Mohamed for the emerging leader award," Dr. Agyeman said. “He has come a long way to catch up academically, and has given back to our community by introducing tech to countless number of diverse youth and families.

Brown also praised Sharif in the letter of recommendation he authored.

“Mohamed is fun, intelligent, dependable, hardworking, a team player, and is developing into a leader we all admire," Brown said. “He will make a great asset to any organization." 

Sharif said it was very meaningful to be recognized.

“To be recognized as a Passport to Prosperity Award recipient means so much to me, and it shows me that I have people supporting me and recognizing my work," Sharif said. “I am so thankful to have supportive people who help me, and who mentor and guide me to be a better person. I am so thankful to have won this award."

Sharif and the other 2020 Passport to Prosperity Emerging Leader Award recipients were recently honored during a Virtual Celebration hosted by the Iowa International Center.


For more information, contact:​ Dr. Ahmed Agyeman, (515) 360-2541,

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