From Carpet-Weaver to Creighton Student

From Carpet-Weaver to Creighton Student

Afghani student reaches for his dreams with inaugural Creighton Global Initiative scholarship

Neman Karimi considers himself an optimist. But life hasn’t been easy for the 25-year-old from Herat, Afghanistan.

“I had a tough childhood,” says Karimi, who worked as a carpet-weaving apprentice as a child. “I remember working almost 18 hours a day to only earn 30 rupees a week.”

That’s about $24 (U.S.) per week. Some of that money went back to assist his financially struggling parents and his five siblings.

But he remained hopeful. “I had big ideas in my mind,” he says. “I had aspirations of becoming an educated person.”

As a teenager, he finally had an opportunity to attend school. He struggled at first, but remained determined. He was then introduced to an English as a Foreign Language program through Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) and Jesuit Worldwide Learning (JWL).

He was inspired by the JWL-JRS outreach, which has a scope of assisting refugees and other marginalized people worldwide. He would earn a diploma in liberal studies through a JWL program with Regis University.

“That had a special impact on me,” Karimi says. “It helped me to have a different … more profound perception of humanity, societies and moral issues surrounding us.”

Like other graduates of the 45-credit hour diploma program, he used his education to teach English at local sites through JRS. “I have been able to teach what I have learned to the people of my community,” Karimi says. 

In the fall of 2018, he became a student once more.

Karimi was selected as one of 10 JWL-Regis diploma graduates from Afghanistan (including six women) to receive an inaugural scholarship, funded by a Creighton Global Initiative grant, to enroll in Creighton’s online bachelor’s degree in leadership studies.

Two scholarships were awarded to JWL students from Jordan in January, and eight more scholarships will be awarded to JWL students worldwide this fall.

“We are the first Jesuit university to offer scholarships to these students,” says Martha Habash, PhD, associate professor of classical and Near Eastern studies, and the faculty advisor and liaison for the JWL students.

For Karimi, the Creighton scholarship furthers his dream of one day earning his PhD.

“I want to serve my community and be an agent of social change,” he says.

Lofty goals. But Karimi is ever the optimist.