Meet Parmina and Amina S.

Business Administration and Early Childhood graduates

“We are the first in our family to come to America and to complete college.”

It’s a long way from Afghanistan to Troy, NY. Two members of the Hudson Valley Community College Class of 2023 know that fact first-hand.

Sisters Parmina and Amina Safi were born in Afghanistan but were forced to leave with family members during the years of conflict in that country. The two sisters, their younger sister, their mother, and extended family members, were refugees in neighboring Pakistan for years before being accepted into a resettlement program that brought them to the Capital Region.

The two young women and their younger sister, who were teenagers when they arrived in this country, already spoke three languages - Pashtun, Dari and Urdu - but no English. It was a hard transition but, little by little, things improved as they adjusted to their new home. “When we came here, we had a difficult time,” said Parmina. “And, of course, with the language, we did not know how to go to stores, to buy food, but later on, it got better.”

Although the sisters are similar in age, they have distinct aspirations and personalities. Amina, who will graduate with an Early Childhood degree, said she hopes to one day return to Afghanistan as an educator. Parmina, who will complete her Business Administration, degree hopes to own her own business one day. She was honored by her department with the 2023 Excellence in Business Administration Award.

“First, I need to get some experience but after that I want to start my own business,” Parmina said. “I have a lot of ideas but right now I’m trying to choose which one is the right one.”

“I choose Early Childhood because I can do that job here and also back in my country when I go back there eventually,” Amina said. “I want to make programs that can help children and their families back in Afghanistan and teach them.”

Both Parmina and Amina say their mother is the main inspiration for them to work hard and attain a college degree. They also said they appreciate the sacrifices she has made to make her daughters’ lives better.

“We are the first in our family to come to America and to complete college and to graduate from high school. This is all because of my mother,” Parmina said. “My mother used to say ‘I’m proud to be the mother of my three daughters,’ and now two of them are educated with a college degree and one is in high school.”

“My mother is everything to us,” Amina said. “She brought us to America, and left her family, her sisters, all for us. She has sacrificed a lot. Her dream was for us to go to college because that was something that she never had the chance to do.”