Student Spotlight: "What If I Don't Like Seafood?"

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 Student Spotlight: "What If I Don't Like Seafood?"

Student Ayat Aribi
By Ayat Aribi

The title of my high school graduation speech was “What If I Don’t Like Seafood?”. The reason behind this oddly peculiar title (besides trying to be clever) was because leading up to graduation, the adults in my life were all hyping up the excitement of graduating high school and moving on to the ‘real world’. “The world is your oyster, now go find your pearl.” I would hear this cliché phrase from my English teacher at least once a week and to be frank, I didn’t understand the big deal that everyone was making. I was expecting college to be four years of my life in which I’ll meet people from all over the world and experience lots of new things, but I figured it would just be like a bigger version of high school with harder courses and added responsibilities. Boy was I wrong, because the second I stepped onto UNL, the world did become my oyster.

When I started at UNL, I was involved in a few groups, but as a normal member rather than a leader. However, after being in meetings and events with other members of these groups, my leadership qualities and my passion for change were picked up by my peers. Because of this, when elections rolled around, I was elected into leadership positions.

My name is Ayat Aribi and I am a sophomore Biochemistry and Global Studies double major. I am currently president of two Registered Student Organization here on campus, Middle Eastern Students Unite, a group that aims to spread awareness about Middle Eastern culture, and Amnesty International, an international organization that raises awareness about human rights around the world. Having the added responsibility of being president of two groups as a sophomore is tough, but my passion for my culture and human rights keeps me driven. My friends like to joke about the fact that I keep three planners, but I need three planners to organize my life and keep my appointments and commitments organized. I can’t say no to anything so I am involved in a lot of things on campus, but I do so because I feel like an individual cannot complain about something if they are not willing to try to make a change.

The reason I am here in the United States is because my parents were trying to make a change. I am half Arab and half Persian and I came to the United States in 2000 as a refugee because my family was working to overthrow the corrupt dictator of Iraq. My parents ran away to Jordan and then we were fortunate enough to be given refugee status in the United States, and hearing the stories of struggle and hardship that my parents went through keeps me motivated. Besides the two groups I am president of, I am also involved in Cultural Ambassadors, Executive Council of Multicultural Organizations, and Diversity Ambassadors. Through all these activities, I have had the honor of working with many members of our faculty and staff that shared my passions.

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