Oakes College ’13
Raydan Alhubaishi has lived in war and in exile. He has lived in a country riddled with injustice.
That’s why the 22-year-old, who came from the trouble-plagued country of Yemen, is studying political science at UC Santa Cruz.
“I want to make a difference,” he said.
The slender student with close-cropped hair, grew up in the small city of Ibb surrounded by rich, agricultural fields and beautiful mountains. But the town’s charm belied the trouble around it. A brutal civil war broke out in 1994, compelling Alhubaishi’s family to flee to Egypt. They returned, only to have political pressures force Alhubaishi’s father to seek asylum in the U.S. By the time Alhubaishi was a teenager, he knew his options for a successful life in Yemen were limited.
When he came to the U.S. at 16, he wondered if he had made the right choice. He spoke no English. American culture seemed strange. School was daunting. But Alhubaishi threw himself into the study of English, watching only American TV, reading only English books, and hanging around people who spoke English instead of his native Arabic.
Alhubaishi completed four semesters of English language study in one year and was mainstreamed into regular classes. His confidence growing, he enrolled in junior college, where his aptitude and love for politics led him to a student body office and work in organizations that represented higher education both in California and across the nation.
With a Karl S. Pister Leadership Opportunity Award, Alhubaishi was able to transfer to UC Santa Cruz where, he said, the diversity of students, along with supportive and engaging professors, opened his mind to even more possibilities. This year, he will study abroad in China through the Educational Opportunity Program and has an internship lined up in Washington D.C.
UCSC gave him a sense of community, provided a place where he is continually challenged, and also changed his worldview. Alhubaishi was awakened to the importance of environmental stewardship and to social justice issues in other countries. He is active in the Indian Student Organization and African/Black Student Alliance. He is part of the Oakes Senate and is a representative to the Academic Senate.
He plans to go to graduate school or law school with an eye toward a career in diplomacy some day.
“UCSC,” said Alhubaishi, “gave me a place to explore.”