Tell us a little about your background
I am an artist, an educator, and a parent. All of those roles influence my life
in immense ways. I advocate for education in my community, for better parenting, and for us to appreciate and infuse arts into our lives. I believe art is healing.
I am also a performing artist in film. I love story telling, and I utilize education and art to reach my community, and to advocate for the issues that are important to me.
I believe there is a link between education and independence for women, as well as a link between financial independence and the overall well-being of women. My goal is to encourage women to take our destiny in our own hands, and not wait for permission to do things, and be who we want to be
What does your organization do?
UdgoonSeven is a media platform that I started this year where I share information about the world around us, about parenting, and where I advocate for youth, education, and women. Any platform worth having is one where the truth prevails, and a person does work that influence’s others in a positive way. That is my goal for UdgoonSeven.
What would you consider as your most significant accomplishment so far?
I am a single mother. One of my greatest accomplishment is raising my son on my own. It has been the two of us since he was born. We have gone through a lot together, but our biggest accomplishment together has been when I graduated from college with my bachelor’s, and then with my master’s. It was a difficult journey, but we’ve had each other, and we say that’s always been more than enough.
I believe in continuous self-improvement. My next venture after investing in my education has been starting a digital platform, UdgoonSeven (U7). I’ve always been interested in art media, and storytelling, and it has been my dream to start my own media company to tell Somali stories, especially Somali women stories.
Have you experienced any challenges running this organization as a woman?
In my educational journey, I have gone through a lot of challenges. As a single mother it was incredibly difficult to go to school, and to stay in school. The biggest issues were lack of support in raising my child, and poverty – the lack of money to support myself, and my son, as well as money to fund my education.
I attained my undergraduate through difficult circumstances, and half-way through graduate school is when I started teaching fulltime and earning a regular pay-check.
In the media work that I do, I have the challenges that start-ups always have such as financial issues to obtain the equipment that I need, being a Somali woman in media, and the criticism that I face for the way I present myself in a Somali community that insists on women dressing in a certain way to be given a semblance of respect for the work we do.
However, I believe in authenticity and so I will continue presenting myself in a way that is authentic to who I am.
What’s next for UdgoonSeven?
One of my main goal as an artist-educator-storyteller is to write and produce a feature film and shows which center Somali women, and our stories. I started UdgoonSeven for that reason. I want to showcase Somali women’s stories, and I want to continue to uplift, educate, and entertain.
Any advice for Women who would want to pursue this kind of venture?
My advice for women who want to pursue education – especially as a parent – is that the journey is worth it. Education is not just the end result. The journey is just as important. You will learn so much about yourself along the way. You will see what you are made of. It is a difficult journey, but it is also a rewarding one. Your knowledge is something that no one can ever take away from you. You’ve earned it. So, I would say take a chance on yourself. Rome wasn’t built in one day. Take one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, and you will reach there.
For women in media, I would say, you belong. You are exactly where you are supposed to be. You have a voice for a reason. Don’t wait for permission to do what you believe is right, and for existing in this world.
How can well-wishers contact you?
I am on Facebook Ifrah Udgoon. That is my personal page and the same name is also used for my artist page. My twitter and Instagram: @ifkanoolow