USM’s 2020 Student Commencement Speaker former WMPG Intern Leyla Hashi! Listen to her Speech and more!

STUDENT COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER Leyla Hashi ’20 When Leyla Hashi receives her diploma, like so many classmates she will become the first in her family to complete a college education. It is a special kind of story told over and over again, but Leyla’s journey to University of Southern Maine (USM) and her degree is particularly poignant.

Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, she came to the United States at a young age, grew up in Boston attending public schools, and quickly learned English in a competitive home environment placing a healthy emphasis on scholastic achievement.

Moving to Portland, she graduated from Deering High School before enrolling at a local community college where she sought to find her true passion and calling. But it was a trip to her homeland that revealed to Leyla what her future must be. While visiting a local TV station and attending a live newscast, she was suddenly aware that broadcasting and journalism held a certain fascination previously missing from her studies.

Intrigued and curious, she enrolled in the communications program at USM, a process so welcoming during orientation, she knew she had found the perfect environment ironically so close to home. Especially meaningful was an internship senior year at WMPG where she immersed herself in a project interviewing refugees in Portland and gained a renewed appreciation for the opportunity to pursue her newfound interest.

Among her fondest memories are the feelings of excitement she experienced in a learning and supportive environment that included many fun times and spirited debates at the Student Diversity Center.

It is a special quality of the University of Southern Maine that dreams like Leyla’s are regularly transformed into the kind of memorable moments you are about to share with her… a live broadcast launching her toward graduate school and a bright and promising future.