“When we first migrated to the U.S., I immediately wanted to go back.”
Those words ring heavy on their own but carry even more weight when looking at all the achievements of Hayat Sherif, recipient of the 58th Annual Medal of Academic Merit at MiraCosta College.
Explained Hayat, “All I knew was the alphabet and because I couldn’t speak the language, I felt like everyone was belittling me. That first year and a half was hard.”
Hayat was in middle school when she moved to the U.S. from Ethiopia with her mother. To support them, her mother worked multiple jobs to make ends meet and because the language barrier was so challenging early on, Hayat found herself remaining in the background. A self-described shy student, Hayat didn’t really get involved in activities until high school.
When asked what changed, Hayat noted her mindset. She knew she needed to put herself out there, no matter how scary it may be, in order to accomplish her goals.
Hayat started out volunteering at a senior living center in her community. Later on, when she turned 18, she worked there on staff and soon became deeply passionate about the impact of that work.
“Growing up, I had seen a lot of people get sick back home,” shared Hayat. “They didn’t have a lot of attention or care, and couldn’t help themselves. That’s why it brings me so much satisfaction to do this type of work.”
When it came time to decide what to do after high school, Hayat already had her sights set on MiraCosta College. She joined the Summer Bridge program and quickly found a new home among her fellow students and the faculty.
“The first encounter I had with anyone at MiraCosta was Don Love and I honestly can’t think of enough words to explain how he changed my life,” explained Hayat. “He helped guide me on my path and he encouraged me to be part of so many amazing clubs and organizations. That’s what helped force me out of my comfort zone and make so many of the connections I have today.”
Once a shy middle school student learning a new language, Hayat emerged into one of the most active community college students you’ll meet. In addition to excelling in the classroom, Hayat is a Student Ambassador, a Senator for the Associated Student Government, Vice President of Fellowship for Phi Theta Kappa, Co-president of the Black Student Union, and member of Umoja. She also finds time to serve as a caregiver in the community and work at that same senior living facility she first volunteered with.
Hayat also plans to pursue her RN at a four-year university and go on to care for others in a local hospital.
“I learned early on that if I wanted to be successful I needed to put myself out there and work for it,” shared Hayat. “It wasn’t easy at first, but I’m so glad I did.”