Human Services graduate earns MSW and founds first-of-its-kind wellness center
Yussuf Shafie, 28, of Burnsville, Minnesota, is the 2017 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year at Inver Hills Community College. Originally from East Africa with roots in Somalia and Kenya, Yussuf immigrated with his family to Burnsville in 2000. One of seven children, he graduated from Burnsville High School in 2006 and attended Inver Hills from 2007 to 2009.
Yussuf was an active college student beyond the classroom, serving as president of the Somali Student Club, vice president of the International Student Club, and treasurer of VIBE, or Volunteering Individuals Brings Empowerment. He graduated with an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree in Human Services.
Yussuf continued his education, earning his BSW from Metropolitan State University in 2012 and his MSW from the University of Minnesota in 2014. He completed an internship with the Community University Health Care Center as an adult rehabilitative mental health services (ARMHS) practitioner, specializing in social work triage. Yussuf is also a licensed graduate social worker (LGSW).
While he was attending the U of M, Yussuf and his sister, Ifrah, opened Tawakal, the first Somali restaurant in Burnsville. Tawakal serves Somali, Ethiopian and Kenyan cuisine. Ifrah went on to take a lead management role in the business, giving Yussuf more time to focus his energies on social work.
In 2015, Yussuf founded the Alliance Wellness Center in Bloomington, the fourth largest city in Minnesota with roughly 86,000 residents. The center, the first of its kind in the Twin Cities metro area, specializes in serving clients with East African backgrounds, offering multicultural care delivered by a multicultural team with a focus on mental health issues and addiction.
Three words that describe you as a person:
EASYGOING. FUNNY. HAPPY.
Tom Reis, an instructor with 12 years of experience in the Human Services program at Inver Hills, remembers Yussuf as one of his top students. “Yussuf has accomplished more than any other student that has graduated from our program during my time at Inver,” Tom said.
Ann Schroder, a librarian at Inver Hills, served as co-advisor for the Somali Student Club when Yussuf was president. “Yussuf was the person in the room who could persuade all parties to agree,” Ann said. “He used a reasoned approach, his sense of humor and his infectious smile. His ability to lead with respect is an amazing character trait. ”
As a Somali and practicing Muslim, Yussuf continues to serve as executive director of the Alliance Wellness Center. His other pursuits include work as a direct support professional for Howry Residential Services in Eagan, assisting with the daily living needs of vulnerable adult clients, and as a social worker at Roosevelt High School providing counseling services to troubled students.
Perhaps Ann Schroder best sums up Yussuf’s remarkable contributions to people most in need in his community.
“Yussuf embodies the determination and grit we hope will inspire other Inver Hills students,” she said. “He certainly inspires me!”
Yussuf will be recognized at Celebrate Inver 2017, Double Down for Inver, April 20, 2017, at the Southview Country Club in West St. Paul. He will a guest speaker at the college’s commencement ceremony, May 11, 2017.
Each year, Celebrate Inver brings together alumni, community leaders, business and corporate partners, faculty, staff and distinguished guests in support of Inver Hills students. Proceeds from the event are used to support the work of the foundation and the scholarship program, helping students stay in school and graduate with less debt. LEARN MORE.
Yussuf Shafie Q & A
What is your most memorable experience at Inver?
In 2008, I went on the Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief Trip to New Orleans. Being there, seeing the high water level and working with people struggling with poverty taught me a lot about human services. Also, my Human Services instructors, Tom Reis and Cheryl Redinger, were amazing.
How would describe the Human Services program at Inver?
I was able to be part of a learning community when I was in the program and some of us stuck together all the way through graduate school. We are like a family.
What do you like best about the human services field?
I love having the chance to help others. You meet people where they are. Understanding the whole concept of social work is knowing how to be there for people in need.
— Yussuf Shafie
Executive Director, Alliance Wellness Center
What has been your toughest challenge in life?
Educating people I meet about my land and my culture. Somalia has gone through a lot and many Somalians are suffering from PTSD. I am looking for people to be less judgemental and more open-minded.
What is the most interesting or amazing thing that’s ever happened to you?
I am married to my best friend—plus I own my own business and I’m giving back to my community by helping people with chemical dependency and mental health issues.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Educating people about community issues while providing for my family.
What person or persons have influenced you the most in life?
Muhammad Ali and Nelson Mandela. My parents and brothers and sisters, too.
Yussuf’s wife, Kawsar Jama, is pursuing a career in healthcare management. Her professional emphasis is assisting the elderly. When he’s not directing Alliance Wellness Center, Yussuf enjoys playing basketball and reading novels. He loves NFL football and is a fan of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
For more information about Human Services at Inver Hills, including earning a Human Services Worker A.S. degree, contact:
Human Services Faculty
Human Services Faculty
To learn more about the Inver Hills Foundation, contact:
Executive Director of Foundation and Community Relations