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SNHU GEM Celebrates International Day of Families and Believes Higher Education Should Meet Everyone – Including Parents – Where They Are

SNHU GEM student Achayo shares her experience pursuing a degree while raising four children and running her own business in the Kakuma Refugee Camp.

Sunday marked the International Day of Families, a day dedicated to the importance of families and the issues that affect them. This day is especially significant at Southern New Hampshire University’s Global Education Movement (SNHU GEM) because many students in our program must balance education and caring for their families.

In 2020, nearly 70% of SNHU GEM students in Kakuma, Kenya, were parents – including Achayo Rebecca Loum, a South Sudanese refugee, single mother, and small business owner. She lives in the Kakuma Refugee Camp with her four daughters, mother, and nephew.

Before his passing, Achayo’s father wished for his daughter to pursue an education. But life was upended when Achayo’s family left everything behind to escape the civil war in South Sudan. Despite this, Achayo was determined to continue her education and fulfill her late father’s dream.

The birth of her children fueled her commitment to higher education. She wanted to give her children a good life – including a good education, and saw higher education as the pathway to do so.

Achayo Family Photo
Achaya with two of her four daughters wearing clothes she made.

“I put my children above everything else on this planet,” Achayo says. “It’s my priority to equip myself intellectually to protect and provide for my family what I was not provided during my childhood. If I’m going to support them in their educational journey, I have to be their role model.” 

Achayo enrolled in SNHU GEM’s flexible, self-driven degree program, which is tailored to the unique needs of refugees and displaced learners. She completed her associate degree with SNHU GEM and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s in management with a concentration in public administration.

We believe education should meet all students – including parents – where they are, so they can be empowered to succeed on their own terms. Education has enabled Achayo to secure meaningful employment and run her own tailoring business, making clothes for the most vulnerable people at an affordable cost. 

Achayo sewing
Achayo runs her own tailoring business, and teaches single mothers and teenagers how to sew.

Inspired by SNHU GEM, she decided to use her small business to give back to her community. Achayo began teaching single mothers and teenagers how to sew. “Tailoring became my favorite activity not only as a means of generating income but a stress release during traumatic situations like when my house collapsed due to flooding in 2017” she explains. “I was fortunate to be part of the SNHU program. Through my business, I can touch the lives of those within my community.”

With her bachelor’s degree from SNHU GEM, Achayo plans to use the skills she developed from the program to advance her tailoring business and raise funds to hire more women.

Learn more about Achayo’s journey: