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October 28, 2021

Confidence stoked by campus involvement

When Mahlet Mulugeta first arrived at the International & Immigrant Student Services (IISS) office, Suzanne Maheu, Coordinator for International Community Support Services, took note of how reserved the new student was.

“She was a quiet student,” said Maheu. “She was very soft-spoken and shy.”

However, in less than a year, Maheu and everyone else in IISS would witness Mahlet transform into a confident, outgoing student leader.

From Ethiopia to JCCC

Mahlet came to the United States on a student visa from Ethiopia. She originally planned on attending Evangel University in Springfield, Mo., after graduating high school but it wasn’t the right fit for her.

On the advice of her uncle, she transferred to JCCC for the Spring 2020 semester. Soon after transferring, the COVID-19 pandemic began and all of her classes were moved online.

For Mahlet, this was an isolating experience. She began to brainstorm how she could form connections with other students.

Mahlet decided as soon as campus reopened, she would make the effort to get involved at JCCC. “I believed that getting involved would help me feel the sense of belonging and help me balance college life more easily,” she said.

One day while on campus, she spotted an international student with an employee badge. Mahlet had wanted to work on campus, so she asked the student how she had gotten a job.

The student explained how she had applied but added that it might be helpful for Mahlet to build experience through volunteer work. The student, who held a position on the Student Senate, told Mahlet that they were looking for new senators, and Mahlet was instantly interested.

She went to work. She started by drafting a résumé with the help of the Career Development Center before organizing her campaign to become a student senator.

Her efforts paid off. Mahlet became part of the Student Senate in Fall 2020.

“I have been grateful to be involved as a parliamentarian for the Student Senate,” she said. “This organization is helping me realize my potential.”

Building on Her Success

As Mahlet’s confidence grows, so does her involvement on campus.

She has completed the Cav Leadership program, works at the Academic Resource Center, is an Honors Program student, has been a part of Model UN, serves as Vice President of the Black Student Union and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa.

According to Mahlet, getting involved is a great way to build on innate leadership skills and decompress from coursework.

“Sometimes, I get stressed about my classes,” she says. “But I get relief and can relax after meeting students in the clubs that I get involved in.”

She has also been a scholarship recipient for her efforts, further helping her toward her career goals.

Future Plans

Mahlet’s next step is a dream she’s held for a long time.

“I’ve been dreaming of becoming a doctor since I was 7 years old,” she says. “I define the word ‘doctor’ as a ‘saver.’ I want to live a happy life, and the first thing that will make me happy is seeing someone getting happy and healthy.”

Mahlet says the inspiration for her future career came from her father.

“All the credits go to my father, Endale Mulugeta,” she says. “He always supports me with everything. Most people will tell me that medical school is tough, but my father taught me that nothing is impossible. So without his support, I wouldn’t have even made it to the U.S.”

Getting Involved at JCCC

Mahlet encourages students to find their fit and get involved in the many clubs and organizations on campus.

“You’ll learn more about yourself and learn how to work with a team,” she says. “You will be able to use the skills you’ve learned in class and you’ll also gain leadership skills. Overall, it’s an unforgettable college-life experience.”

Maheu is amazed at Mahlet’s transformation. The quiet student who first visited the office has become a confident leader on campus.

“What struck all of us in the IISS office the most about Mahlet is the tremendous change we have seen in her from the first time we met her,” said Maheu. “She has truly blossomed at JCCC and is now a role model for all of our international and domestic students who choose to study at the College.”

Connect with JCCC

Student life is vibrant at JCCC. Enhance your college experience at JCCC by getting involved with upcoming student events, leadership programs, clubs and organizations! Visit Get Involved @JCCC to learn more.