Student Speaker: Samer Kamel

Samer KamelSamer was studying mechanical engineering in his native Egypt when a friend told him about a similar program at Edmonds Community College. He learned about the college and decided to take the big step of enrolling as an international student. But before Samar could get serious about mechanical engineering, he had to learn English through Edmonds CC's English as a Second Language program.

Despite the challenges of learning a complex subject in a new language, Samer knew he wanted to be active in college life, as well. He took a job as a driver for Edmonds CC's International Student Services, where he met people from around the world and shared his experiences with them. In addition, Samer kept busy as an assistant in the office of the Executive Vice President for Instruction. With all of his duties, he also found time to work at a local gas station.

"Working and studying at the same time is very hard sometimes, but I decided I wanted a busy life," said Samer, who plans to complete his degree at Washington State University. "It is preparing me for my future career. I encourage everyone to study hard now and establish goals to achieve. Nothing is impossible for the person who really wants to succeed, whether in education, business, or just life."

Samer Kamel: Commencement 2013 Speech

Samer KamelTonight is a very exciting night for me, as I’m sure it is for all of you who are graduating. I am so proud to be one of the two student speakers for our commencement ceremony. I would like to thank all the families, friends, and employees celebrating this night with us.

Graduates, I’m sure you’ll agree that in addition to all of your own hard work, the help and support of your instructors has been extremely valuable in allowing you to be where you are tonight.

I especially want to give extra thanks to all of my instructors who have helped me in this first step of realizing my educational dreams. I had a really good time with them, and they were so helpful to me. They are one of the big reasons why I am standing before all of you tonight.

I remember one day when I had my first engineering class two years ago with my favorite instructor, Patrick Burnett, who was also my advisor for engineering. He told us that the next two years were going to fly by like snapping our fingers. He was right about that - and about a lot of other stuff.

One class I took with him, he encouraged us to take some time and think about our future careers, and what we wanted to be and wanted to do for people and our community after getting our degrees. I really appreciate the importance of this advice and how it has impacted my life.

I hope the instructors are as good at WSU, where I am going to get my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Tonight, as we look forward to the future, I would also like to briefly look back and share with all of you my background and some of the fond memories that I take with me as I leave Edmonds Community College.

I am originally from Egypt. I attended an engineering university in El-Minya City. I finished a preparation year and one and a half years in a mechanical engineering department. Throughout my educational life in Egypt, I hated my English courses, and I had a hard time understanding English in both prep school and high school. It was a nightmare every time I heard that I had an English exam, because I knew that my dad would know about this and would see my grades after a few days.

It wasn’t a very good day if I had bad grades.

I remember the night before an English final exam in prep school when my dad told me to practice some exercises. I couldn’t understand one part of the grammar, and I did some of the exercises wrong. Then, I got punished by my dad when he checked my answers. But you know what? That actually helped me remember this part on the final exam the next day!

Looking back now, I realize that my dad only wanted the best for me. And that included giving me the best education I could get. Thanks Dad!

Eventually, I came to Washington state with my parents, who, as immigrants, wanted to make a fresh start. But it was hard for me to leave Egypt, and I told my dad that I didn’t really want to come to the U.S. I wanted to stay in Egypt for the rest of my life. But he told me, “No, you should come.” So I came to the U.S. and arrived on July 4, 2009. I’ll tell you something funny: I saw all the fireworks and thought that everyone was cheering for me. But then I realized that it was Independence Day.

Me and my brother Andrew, who also is graduating tonight, chose to come to Edmonds Community College after my best friend - whose name is also Andrew - recommended it to us. He also graduated from Edmonds and now he has a degree in Bioengineering.

It was difficult at first, as I’m sure those of you who have found yourselves in a new environment would agree with me. I definitely had culture shock. I stayed home for three months, not going anywhere and not talking to anyone, even my family. As things usually do, they got better when my best friend began talking to me about school and finding work.

He told me to start taking English as a Second Language classes at Edmonds Community College and start myself on the path to college. I didn’t try to transfer any credits from Egypt, because I wanted to take all the courses again in English. But as any college student knows, most of us have to find time to work while we are in school. We need spending money and just money to live on, right?

So at this time, I started looking for jobs because I wanted to be an independent student, even though I was living with my family.

I wanted a job at school to fit my schedule, and I knew that Edmonds CC had many jobs on campus available to students. I’m sure some of you have worked in the bookstore, in the Center for Student Engagement and Leadership, or the Brier Grill. I went to the housing office and got a job as a driver for housing and International Student Services. Through this job, I met new students from all over the world and shared my experience at Edmonds. But because it’s only an on-call position, it wasn’t really a job that I could depend on, so I also got an assistant position in the Executive Vice President for Instruction’s office.

Having jobs and being a full-time student at the same time was tough for me, and I know many of you agree with me. But we did it, didn’t we? For me, I chose to be busy all the time and I don’t see it changing in the near future.

I want to share one last story that I will never forget and will always carry with me. I had an injury my last quarter in the chemistry lab. I was trying to use a pipette, but it broke and I ended up having stitches on two of my fingers. I know it sounds a little weird, but when I look at my hand I won’t forget that experience, and all the positive memories I have of Edmonds CC.

Finally, I would like to conclude - not with a memory - but with some advice. I want to remind all of us that nothing is impossible in our lives. Wherever you live, whatever you do, we all don’t need to wait for the time to serve our community and improve the world. And Edmonds Community College was a great start for me.

Congratulations for the graduating class of 2013.

And thank you.