Genuine, authentic, warrior, beautiful. These are the words Foothill College counselor Leticia Serna used to describe second-year student Eman Magzoub.
Magzoub, who moved to the United States a year and a half ago from Saudi Arabia, was recently named a Newman Civic Fellow for the impact she’s made on the Foothill campus. Through the program, fellows – nominated by their college president or chancellor – are provided with resources to network and learn how to further aid their communities.
Magzoub leads Foothill’s We for She Club, advocating for the gender equality of women, and participates in numerous panels on gender dynamics on campus.
Magzoub does all this while exceling in the classroom. She said education has always been a priority. Her parents engrained that in her at a young age.
“I was always growing up with this idea that I have to go to college,” she said. “There was no question.”
Magzoub’s family is of Sudanese descent, but she grew up in Saudi Arabia. While her two older sisters went to university in Sudan, Magzoub said she wanted to study in the U.S, hoping to get as far away from Saudi Arabia as possible.
She chose to start out at a two-year college because of her challenges in high school.
“I had a pretty rough high school experience,” Magzoub said. “I was diagnosed with depression ever since I was a sophomore up to when I was a senior. I also had kind of traumatic things happen as well, which didn’t help.”
She saw community college as a good place to refocus her attention on schoolwork. She chose Foothill because she moved to the Bay Area with her older sister, who has a friend living here.
“When I decided to come to community college, (I realized) I could take a step back from my school work, I could focus on my mental health, rebuilding myself slowly,” Magzoub said. “At the same time, finding what I like, finding my passion. I thought it would be more comfortable than throwing myself into a four-year, where there’s a lot of pressure and a lot of responsibility.”
When Serna first met Magzoub at the start of the school year, she was impressed.
“I just thought she was an incredible young woman,” Serna said. “She was shy, but she’s come out of her shell.”
After they got to know one another, Magzoub became one of Serna’s counselees. She came to see her for academic advice and questions about various opportunities. Serna is also one of the We for She club advisors and gets to observe Magzoub at work.
“I am in awe of her, how she thinks, what she does, the goals that she has, her passion for gender equity and her commitment to making changes in her country, wanting to bring to light things,” Serna said.
Through Magzoub’s time at Foothill, she has further developed her worldview and examined where she fits in this country as a black female Muslim.
“I (had) more space and time to figure out what this forced American identity meant to me, what my Sudanese one meant to me, how people perceive me,” Magzoub said. “I think my main struggle, which is also my motivation for everything I do, is not letting how people see you be the way you see yourself.”
Magzoub also discovered that social psychology, the study of how social interactions affect humans, is the field she hopes to focus on in the future. Next year, she will attend UCLA to pursue an undergraduate degree in psychology and then plans to enroll in graduate school.