Abdisamed Awed’s goal is to someday help rebuild his home country of Somalia, a place he and his family fled more than two decades ago.
Awed was a newborn – just 12 days old – when his family rushed to escape Somalia’s civil war, ultimately settling in a refugee camp on the country’s border with Kenya. He spent the first few years of his life in that camp before immigrating with his family to the United States as a toddler. Raised in Virginia, Awed moved to Minnesota in 2010. He attended Normandale Community College, then earned his undergrad degree from the University of Minnesota before coming to Mitchell Hamline.
Now 26, Awed, who goes by AJ, is in his second year of law school. He’s focusing on learning the legal side of the business world with a goal of landing a job in commercial arbitration, dispute resolution, or as in-house counsel for a corporation. He hopes it’s his career in law that leads him back to Somalia.
“I want to be actively involved in Somalia’s reconstruction,” Awed says. “Whether that’s opening up my own company, bringing in investments, working with the government or even the financial sector.”
Awed is also considering a career that involves mediating conflicts between businesses, something he says Somalia will need in the future.
His interest in business mediation comes out of the experience he had competing in a recent international competition.
In early February, Awed and fellow Mitchell Hamline student Susana Muñoz attended the International Chamber of Commerce Mediation Competition in Paris. Only law schools that show a dedication to teaching dispute resolution receive an invitation to compete. Mitchell Hamline made the list because of its nationally ranked Dispute Resolution Institute.
Professor Sharon Press, the Institute’s director and one of the team’s coaches, traveled with Awed and Muñoz to the competition. The intense five-day event featured 66 teams from 32 countries facing off over simulated mediation sessions dealing with international business. Mitchell Hamline’s team made it to the semi-finals and earned a third place finish.
“They really represented Mitchell Hamline and the USA in a great way,” Press says.
Finishing in the top three at the ICC competition left Awed with a sense of accomplishment, but it also offered him an inside look at the world of mediation.
“I got to see so many different mediators in their role, their style, and how they conduct their mediations,” Awed said. “That gave me a good understanding of how to form my own techniques. It was good practice to see that in real life.”
Awed expects to graduate from Mitchell Hamline in the spring of 2019. Before then, he has another big event coming up – he and his wife are expecting their first child this spring. Tim Post