Abdi Maalo ‘18
Major: Human Services
Abdi Maalo arrived in America, the age of 5, from a refugee camp in Kenya to escape the civil war in his homeland of Somalia. His first stops were in New Hampshire and then California before arriving in Central New York. When his family settled in Syracuse he attended Nottingham High School in 2012 and graduated four years later. Despite all of his travels, one thing was always constant for Maalo; his love of soccer. “It has always served as an escape for me by letting me put aside difficulties and struggles while allowing me to be me.”
While at Nottingham, Maalo was first exposed to Onondaga Community College (OCC) through a soccer camp where Lazer men’s coach, Corey Fonseca, encouraged him to attend OCC. In addition to Fonseca, OCC’s Liberty Partnership Program Coordinator Heather Niver and Audiovisual Technology Coordinator Kelly Larrivey were instrumental in providing him with the support and encouragement he needed to take the next step in his athletic and academic careers. “Everyone at OCC was such a great help to my success, but those three will always stand out in giving me the early and sustained confidence to succeed.”
He enrolled in 2016 as a General Studies major, but quickly switched to Human Services. The decision was easy, “I want to help others, particularly refugees, and return the favor from how others helped and supported me.” Maalo tallied 7 goals and 10 assists on the season for the Lazers. He was also named to the United Soccer Coaches All-American team, was a 1st Team NJCAA All-Region player and a 1st team all Mid-State Athletic Conference player. Maalo’s success on the field led to invite from the semi-pro soccer summer team, the Syracuse FC, where he scored a goal in his first game.
Maalo will transfer next fall to Keuka College to pursue his bachelor’s in social work and plans to play soccer there as well. He credits his success to Allah and to his parents, who, because of their hard work and sacrifice, brought him and his brother to America for a chance at success.