Nabiilo’s Journey to AVID and the Associate of Arts Program
How Nabiilo Abdi took advantage of opportunities at District 191 to get a head start on her future in the medical field.
Growing up in Kenya, Nabiilo Abdi enjoyed her childhood and her time in school. When she was ten years old, she moved across the world to Burnsville along with her mother and siblings to join her father. As a student in fifth grade, she had difficulty understanding her teacher and communicating with others as she was learning English, but opportunities in middle school opened up new doors for her.
The Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program is offered at District 191 secondary schools and is focused on creating connections between teachers and students, setting high expectations and teaching important skills like collaboration, inquiry and organization. AVID is an established college prep program that serves all students by ensuring they acquire the organizational and study skills needed for them to be successful.
“I didn’t really know what AVID was and I was still getting used to being in a new place,” said Nabiilo. “AVID has been a fun experience and I really like the teachers and learned a lot about things like staying organized and taking notes. It has really built my confidence in communicating and learning how to work and talk with others.”
As a student at Burnsville High School (BHS), she continued to participate in AVID. Her sophomore year, she began volunteering with Brain Power Backpack and her passion for volunteering grew. That same year, she considered getting college credits through the PSEO program, but was worried about the challenges of online courses and having to get to and from a college campus. When a new program was announced, she knew it would be a challenging but convenient opportunity.
The Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree Pathway was launched during the 2023-24 school year and enables students to take college-level courses and graduate from BHS with both their high school diploma and a two-year A.A. college degree from Inver Hills Community College. Associate of Arts Coordinator Becky Akerson is very up front with students about how much work they should anticipate.
“The general rule of thumb that is shared from the college is that every credit you take is about two to three hours of homework per week,” said Akerson. “There is a level of convenience because students remain at BHS and can participate in clubs, athletics and still connect with their peers. These are definitely holistic, well-rounded students who are very motivated.”
Nabiilo had taken honors classes, including Honors Biology, which sparked an interest in potentially working in the healthcare field but was worried about the difficulty of college classes. With some encouragement, she decided to give it a try, knowing that she would save time and money by trying it in high school instead of waiting until college.
“I had never tried college classes before and was really unsure if I could go through the challenge,” said Nabiilo. “When I first started I thought I would struggle a lot, but I really love learning and am really enjoying the classes. It is stressful at times, but it makes me participate and work hard.”
In her first semester, she took Inver Hills English, CIS African American Studies, CIS American History and Healthcare Core Curriculum, which has given her a unique perspective on potential careers in the medical field and what it takes to work in the healthcare industry. Part of the class is researching different careers and exploring the requirements for schooling and experience. While she is still exploring which career she will eventually pursue, she is currently interested in becoming a family physician and is considering going to medical school.
BHS has provided her with great resources to grow in her learning. She is a member of the BHS Future Healthcare Professions (HOSA) club where she is able to connect with other students who are interested in the medical field. Her passion for volunteering continues to grow and she is just 30 hours away from her goal of volunteering 100 hours this school year. She is ready to take on what will be a more challenging senior year and encourages other students to step outside of their comfort zones and try things that may seem scary.
“Don’t doubt yourself before you actually try it because you might enjoy it,” said Nabiilo. “Give it a shot and know that if it’s too hard, this is not your final decision. The A.A. Pathway is very different from the normal high school classes, but if you can manage your time, you can do it!”
Early years - Nabiilo grew up in Kenya with her family.
Age 10 - Her family moved to Burnsville to join her father.
5th grade - At William Byrne Elementary learning a new language was challenging and school was different than it was in Kenya.
6th grade - Feeling more comfortable and confident as a student at Metcalf, Nabiilo took part in AVID programming.
Middle school and high school - She continued to take AVID courses and looked for other opportunities.
10th grade - Thinking about her final two years in high school, Nabiilo considers doing PSEO, but was worried about the need to do online classes or getting to and from a college campus.
11th grade - She is among the first group of students to participate in the Associate of Arts Pathway where college-level courses are offered at BHS at a pace that will result in graduating high school with an Associate’s degree.
The future - Nabiilo is interested in working in the medical field and is considering her options. She plans to get a bachelor’s degree and is considering medical school.