Samah immigrates to support her daughter’s dream, beginning again herself
“I love to learn. I can’t stand still and do nothing; it’s not my nature,” says 46-year-old Samah, who moved from Egypt to the United States with her family in 2019. “Even when I have nothing to do, I create something to do. This characteristic makes me search for sources … to help me figure out my way.”
Samah’s active career and family life have always been deeply intertwined. She received a bachelor’s degree in education nearly thirty years ago and spent the following decades teaching English at the schools her two children attended. Samah’s ambitious spirit passed onto her eldest daughter, who dreamt of becoming a doctor in America.
“After a little bit of thinking, we decided to move [to the U.S.] after she finished high school in Egypt,” says Samah, whose husband and two daughters happened to possess U.S. citizenship thanks to her husband’s upbringing in America. As for Samah, she had to navigate the process of applying for a green card. In December of 2019, she made the journey, leaving behind her homeland for a new life.
Finding guidance from Upwardly Global
“I woke up every day thinking I was still in Egypt,” says Samah, now in Queens, New York. While the rest of her family found their callings, she felt utterly lost. “I took many classes in Queens Library. My teacher — I will never forget her because she helped me a lot — she told me about Upwardly Global.”
From the moment Samah joined the Upwardly Global family, she felt a renewed sense of hope and purpose. Her Employment Service Advisor became her trusted ally, providing a treasure trove of resources and wisdom about navigating the American education system and job market.
“Without my career coach, I would never be able to [navigate] the Department of Education,” Samah says, emphasizing the department’s highly complex process for evaluating credentials.
In the United States, teachers face mounting red tape and licensing requirements, factors contributing to the nationwide shortage of about 300,000 teachers and staff. This challenge particularly affects qualified immigrants and refugees who, like Samah, are ready to fill much-needed teaching roles but cannot validate their foreign credentials.
“I felt so frustrated,” says Samah. “I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. But with Upwardly Global, I saw the light, and I followed it … .”
With individualized support from her Upwardly Global advisor, Samah tailored her resume, crafted compelling cover letters, and sharpened her interview skills. Through targeted training sessions, she gained the confidence to tackle any interview question thrown her way. And yet, Samah still worried — would it all be enough?
Becoming a teacher again
Samah has begun the lengthy process of evaluation and certification, pushing through all of the bureaucratic hurdles with grace. In late 2022, she landed work as a substitute teacher, and she now regularly goes on assignment to teach grade school classrooms across New York City.
“I’m really satisfied with this chance to be a substitute teacher because I can manage my time and I have a privilege to accept or decline assignments,” says Samah, who is still awaiting a few documents from her home country that could translate into full licensure.
Samah explains that Upwardly Global has done much more than support her job search. It’s also helped her to embrace her capabilities, find her voice, and adapt to new surroundings.
“Upwardly Global helps me figure out my way here in this country — I regularly send my career coach an email when I make any new steps,” Samah says. “The last time we spoke, we were trying to get my certificate to be a [full-time] teacher.”
Her calling rings loud and clear each day that she spends teaching, and now, full licensure feels just within reach.