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'My dream stays with me': Sudanese war refugee graduates from Rockhurst University to become nurse

Ikhlas Adam
Posted at 5:34 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-15 13:14:18-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ikhlas Adam, a Sudanese war refugee who moved to Kansas City in 2014, took the final step toward achieving her dream as she walked across the Rockhurst University graduation stage on Saturday, May 11.

An aid organization gave Adam, her mother, father and 10 siblings the opportunity to move to the United States in 2014 after one of her brothers fell ill in a refugee camp in Chad.

They resided in the camp for seven years — from 2006 to 2013 — after fleeing conflict in Sudan.

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Ikhlas Adam, far right, and her siblings in 2006 after escaping conflict in Sudan and finding refuge in Chad.

It was the lack of health care Ikhlas witnessed as a war refugee for seven years that made her want to become a nurse.

“This is a dream I’ve been dreaming, even at the time when I was in the refugee camp, that I didn’t know where to start because we were always worried about what to eat," she said.

She's always known she wanted to become a nurse.

“My mom and my father, they always take education very serious, so they chose Kansas City for us," she said.

Being the eldest of 11, Adam was the first to graduate with a college degree.

Her father and 10 siblings were at her graduation ceremony to celebrate.

"My dad was the first person in the line, and I heard his voice while I was on the stage and I was like, ‘OK, that’s my dad,'" she said.

Her mother was unable to attend the ceremony; she had to return to Chad to visit their displaced family — including Adam's maternal grandmother — in a refugee camp after the conflict escalated to an official war in April 2023.

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Ikhlas Adam graduated from Rockhurst University with a nursing degree on May 11, 2024.

“Walking on the stage, it makes me feel like, accomplished," she said.

Adam chose to attend Rockhurst University — where she received a scholarship — because it values leadership.

Adam said wherever she goes, her dreams go with her.

“In 2013, I didn’t know one day I would be in the United States, so, but I had the dreams, but those dreams, I was able to achieve them," she said.

Adam begins her nursing career with AdventHealth Shawnee Mission in July.