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Somali grad to give inspiration talk at LMS Wednesday

Monday, June 04, 2012
Bonnie Washuk

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LEWISTON — A Lewiston High School graduate who was born in Somalia and recently graduated from Columbia University is this year's motivational speaker to Lewiston Middle School students and parents.
Hossain Naji was chosen to speak June 6 as the 2012 “START Star” at the Lewiston Middle School.

Project START, which stands for Steps for Accomplishing Real Life Transitions, is an aspiration program to help middle school students understand how the choices they make in high school, including how hard they work, will impact their future.

The school is excited to present Naji as this year's speaker, Lewiston Middle School Career Aspirations Director Billy Jo Brito said. “Not only did Naji graduate from an Ivy League college, he is our first Star who was born outside of the United States.”

Naji caught the attention of aspiration teachers in 2008. As a Lewiston High School student he helped create a video called, “SMASHED.” The video was the project of the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council’s underage, 'U BOOZE U LOOZE' peer-to-peer drinking awareness campaign.

“Naji is a wonderful young man and role model for our community,” Brito said. He graduated in May as a film major from Columbia University in New York City and he plans to pursue a career in the film industry.

The son of Mohiba Samathar, Naji was born in Somalia and moved to Maine in 2001. He speaks Somali and English. He attended Montello Elementary School, Lewiston Middle School and graduated from Lewiston High School in 2008.

While in high school, he was a 2008 “Shining Star” winner, an award from the city that recognized outstanding students. That year he was lauded as high school yearbook editor and member of the Diplomacy Club. As a Lewiston Youth Advisory Council member he played a role in Lewiston becoming an All-America City.

He also earned varsity letters in soccer and track, worked for the Lewiston Recreation Department and as a waiter for LA Coffee and Wine Bistro, and helped organize fundraisers for worthy causes.

On Wednesday, Naji will offer advice and insight on choices students need to think about in high school, according to Brito.

As part of Lewiston Middle School’s aspiration program, all eighth grade students will hear Naji tell his story. Joining him will be other successful Lewiston High School students.

This year is the sixth year of Project START, held each spring. During this year's Project START, eighth-graders visited Central Maine Community College and Bates College, sat in on career and technical classes at the Lewiston Regional Technical Center, and attended a Finance Authority of Maine seminar on finances.

Parents are encouraged to hear Naji's story from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 6 in the school auditorium.

Project START was created through a Lewiston Education Fund grant to expand educational opportunities, foster creativity and enhance academic excellence.


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