STUDENTS SHARE THEIR UNCONVENTIONAL PATHS TO USF

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Claudia Sanchez
Staff Writer

Student Senate hosted the “It Gets Bet- ter with Age” event on Nov. 6 in the Kalmanovitz Hall Amphitheatre. The event was a forum where USF students ages 24 and over got to tell their stories, in addition to sharing how they got to USF. The event was hosted by Tyler Warner, a senior finance major and the Students of Non-Traditional Age Representative of Undergraduate Senate.

TANYA AKL

“I never thought I would be a senior at 26 years old,” stated Tanya Akl. Akl is an international student from Lebanon, and was a junior at the American Uni- versity of Beirut before she came to USF as a sociology major. She was living in a

very toxic home environment before leav- ing her home with her mother for San Francisco. Once in San Francisco, Akl grew interested in the teachings of John Assaraf, started attending the City Col- lege of San Francisco, and began the heal- ing process after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She found USF while looking up universities in the Bay Area. She felt an instant connection to the school which had her saying “I know it! This is my school!”

TYLER WARNER

“You need to take control, you need to stop what’s holding you back,” said Warner, a 24-year-old California native and transfer student. Warner suffered through the death of his best friend dur- ing his junior year of high school, and came out of his shell for his senior year.

He made lots of friends, threw parties, and got more involved in school. The next fall he started attending the University of California—Santa Cruz, where he got involved with drinking and drugs and less connected with academ- ics and student involvement. “It got to a point where I couldn’t tell if I was sober or high when I woke up,” said Warner. He dug himself deeper into drug abuse, until a heroin-addicted friend visited and absolutely neglected and risked another one of his friend’s lives. It was then that Warner realized that it was time for a change. He went back home, got an in- ternship in New York, and started work- ing at an internet startup company. When the company folded, Warner de- cided to make a serious attempt at return- ing to college. He started taking classes at a community college, joined the honor society, and began community service. Warner decided to apply to USF after a nightmarish summer, and everything started falling into place.

DHARAM SINGH KHALSA

Dharam Singh Khalsa,who was born in Brooklyn and grew up in an Indian board- ing school, said that one of the most benefi- cial things growing up in India was having more than one perspective. “In the U.S. you see things from a certain perspective […] and in India it’s flipped on its head.”

He is currently a 28-year-old senior ma- joring in business at USF. “I came to school with the goal of learning business theory and [applying] it to real world is- sues,” says Khalsa.

He decided to go back to school after working with accounting firms and realizing that things could be done better. “As a transfer student it’s tougher, because you’re entering an atmosphere where ev- eryone is comfortable, you have to find ways to get involved,” said Khalsa, who is involved in the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

DALAL ALDILAIMI

Dalal AlDilaimi advised students never to underestimate themselves. “I underesti- mated myself when I was young when my parents didn’t believe in me. Don’t ever un- derestimate yourself, it only takes one person to change the world around you,” she said. AlDilaimi is an international student from Kuwait. At 28, she is currently a junior entre- preneurship and innovation major. Entrepreneurship has always been one of AlDilaimi’s passions and talents. At 11 years old she sold Pokémon chips and doll clothes in order to buy candy, at 16 she started a chain of tanning salons, and now, at 28, she is a college student, head of her own fashion line, and ER2Global, an environmental solutions company, alongside some Italian scientists. AlDilaimi struggled with figuring out what to do after graduating high school; she ultimately decided to continue run- ning her tanning business and try jobs in many different industries. Her other passion, singing, encouraged her to move to Los Angeles in 2010, but she ended up giving it up for her family and pursuing her second passion. She later started look- ing at colleges and universities and chose USF because, “USF was very welcoming, when I started emailing them, they replied quickly and carefully; that to me was a big yes. When you feel like home that was how I felt about USF at that moment.”

*Photo credit: Xiaoyao Peng

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