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Act Six Scholar Finds Support, Future at PLU

Act Six Scholar Finds Support, Future at PLU

Posted by:
April 27, 2021
By Veronica Craker
Marketing & Communications

A native of Yemen, Abdulghani Mosa ‘23 had no idea what his future would hold when he moved to Tacoma in 2012.

“Moving here, everything changed,” said Mosa, who was 12 years old when he and his family joined his father who was already living in the states. “The culture was different, school, religion ... even the houses and trees. It’s like a different world.”

Early on, Mosa struggled at Foss High School in Tacoma and didn’t think college would be an option for him, so he set his sights on applying to be a seaman with the coast guard. Even with this plan, Mosa applied for college scholarships, at the encouragement of his high school counselors. Days before he enlisted into the Marines, Mosa learned he was the recipient of an Act Six Scholarship, a leadership program that connects local students with faith- and social justice-based colleges to equip emerging urban and community leaders to engage the college campus and their communities at home. Having already been awarded the Palmer’s Scholarship —an award that supports Pierce County students of color access to a higher education —Mosa now had all the funding he needed to attend college.

“Scholarships are really important to me and people like me,” Mosa said. “Being a person of color, it’s really hard to attend college. Most of us end up going to the workforce, so a scholarship is really important because it helps us get educated and helps us to reach our dreams and to be leaders in our community.” 

Today Mosa is a business administration major with a concentration in accounting. He plans to pursue a career in law enforcement. He credits Act Six with helping him get through his first year in college.

“I came from a family where no one attended college, I’m the first generation,” Mosa said. “I struggled a lot —I struggled due to my English. I used my mentor, Miss Melanie… I turned to her and she helped me a lot. She connected me to all the resources on campus, all the things that make me be successful. I was about to quit, but Act Six believed in me.”

An initiative of a Tacoma-based nonprofit called Degrees of Change, PLU is one of just five Act Six affiliated universities. PLU has partnered with the program since 2007 and enrolled and graduated more than 90 scholars. Director of Multicultural Outreach and Engagement Melannie Cunningham oversees the program on the PLU campus. Students, like Mosa, are able to attend PLU and receive leadership training, academic preparation and mentorship. They are also required to give back to the community through acts of service. 

After getting over the hurdle of being accepted and paying for college, Mosa now faced a new obstacle. Since English was his second language, he was finding the coursework difficult and was failing a required writing course. He credits the support of Cunningham and fellow Act Six peers for helping him during those early days. He reached out to Cunningham and told her he was failing and was considering dropping out. Mosa says she told him he would not be dropping out. “She said ‘No, no you are not. You are not the first one or the last one to fail that class.’ ”  

Instead, she connected him with his academic advisor Austin Beiermann, who encouraged him to retake the class with a different professor. 

“My job is to train them up so they can fiercely advocate for themselves in these spaces where they don’t find people who look like them,” Cunningham said of Mosa and the Act Six students she oversees. “I just try to keep them centered and remind them of their purpose.” 

Mosa’s Act Six cadre, a group of PLU students who enter the program together in their first-years, also encouraged him to retake the class and shared their own struggles in the classroom. Eventually, he did retake that course.

“I get an A-minus,” he says proudly. “It was harder, but I tried. I learned that if you work hard you will get it. I’m really thankful I’m in Act Six. They help me a lot.”

With the support of Act Six, Mosa made the Dean’s List and found the confidence to believe in himself. He has plans of pursuing law enforcement after graduation. For now, he spends his time studying, participating in campus clubs, and volunteering at the PLU Food Pantry. 

“I am really grateful for all that Act Six has provided,” Mosa said. “It helped me connect to professional leaders … and helped to train me and provide me with strategies to help me succeed in my college career and in my future career.”