“Work is the way you support your family. You work to have the future you want. You work to show your family what can be done. You work for your family and for your kids to follow you.”
Nagat Mahdi was granted a green card to immigrate to the U.S. in 2003, when she and her husband, Ali, left South Sudan with their four-year-old daughter, Aya. “The first time we arrived here, we found that everything is difficult. To understand the cultures, the systems, the language. You feel like you want to go back. Then, one by one, you start to feel better.” Nagat began adjusting to her new life when she started taking English classes at a local non-profit organization and later at the Brooklyn Institute of Business Technology, gaining her U.S. citizenship along the way.
Education has always been important part of Nagat’s family’s life, and she eventually earned her Master’s degree in finance and accounting in 2012. She struggled to find a job in her field, however, just as her husband, who has an MBA, has struggled to find a job in operations management. She now works as a Women, Infant, and Children program administrator and Ali drives a taxi, working opposite shifts that allow them to be home with their four children. Nagat continues to look for a job to use her skills in finance and accounting, however, “When you see the people in front of you who have a good job and the life you want, who can afford to buy the things they want and to do the things they want, you think how did they get that job? They go step-by-step and they got there. And that is what I do: step-by-step.”