Love is the essence of our existence, it is the reason that we are here and the only way to remain as-well. Without love there is nothing at all; there would not be any passion, any happiness, any inspiration or appreciation. Surely, love comes naturally for all of us. But, when it comes to finding a special someone to give all your love to, it can get a bit interesting; it can hide or never be found. Sadly, love can as-well be mistaken. I felt as if love did not want me to look for it, so I waited and in the hardest moments of my life it found me.
I would never forget the first time I saw my husband; it was late January, 2008. I could never forget, because he kept starring at me and the look in his face gave me a comforting and peaceful feeling. I was volunteering for the television ministry from my church as a camera operator; I had been since the past four years. The first time I saw my husband was behind the eye of a camera and it reminded me how much I loved my job. I had never seen this man in my life. But from that day on, there was always something about him that made him stand out, somehow even from far away, my eyes connected to his. Not knowing what is going on through his mind, I found myself trapped, completely consumed by his gaze. Call it faith or luck, but we kept encountering more and more often as time passed, and my interest in him continued to grow, I wanted to know everything about him, his name, his hobbies, where is he from, I even wanted to know his favorite book, color and even movie.
One particular day we were in search for new volunteers for the television ministry. I was in charge of collecting the information from the people that wanted to join the ministry. There were so many people that I was having a very hard time getting everybody to give me their name and phone number one at a time. Getting everybody out of the way as quickly as possible, I was writing fast and messy, hoping that I would be able to understand it when the time comes to start making calls. As I shouted for the next person to give me their information, nobody responded and I looked up, there he was he just smiled at me. I found comfort in his smile; it was his way of making me feel at peace. And this one time I did felt as if nothing matter more in the world, he grab notebook and pencil and wrote down his name and phone number. Finally I had his name “Dyrlan Torrez…” I just didn’t know what to do with it, and so I gave the responsibility to make calls and select the people that would start training to our television producer, Frankie Ramos.
After three months since our new ministry members had started training, Frankie called us and asked us to make sure that we don’t miss getting together on Sunday morning just before the service started. Frankie introduced us to our new ministry partners; Dyrlan was one of the four that completed training. Throughout the days, little by little I started to know him better and better, I asked him all my crazy questions and he asked me nothing, just responded. By this time I was having a tremendous amount of family problems, he was there for me, and he was my friend, he held me through and one day, probably the best day of my life, July, 4th 2009 he told me that he loved me. My heart stopped, and although I denied it with my mind and mouth, I knew that I loved him as-well.
From that day on everything started to change, our feeling grew stronger. Dyrlan decided to speak to my mother, he asked permission to allow a relationship to happen, and quickly my mother turned him away. I was not allow to see him, I couldn’t let this go, I couldn’t let he go, and so we communicated every minute, on every possible way. My mother realize that just by allowing me not to see him didn’t change much between us, and that lead her to not allow me to communicate with him as-well. I could not understand why she was making this decision, I was hurt. My mother realized that Dyrlan and I are ten years apart and she wanted the best for me, she wanted to save me in a small rose pedal that would not allow me to grow and mature, but clearly that was not the way things were happening. I knew exactly what I was doing, I knew what I wanted and so did he.
Dyrlan and I tried to sit with my mother and set things straight, nothing changed her mentality, it just made it worse. The day my nephew was born was January 19, 2010 I was allowed to keep my cell phone just in case something happens and I took advantage of the situation and decided to make one phone call. I called Dyrlan, he was happy to hear my voice, he wanted to know about my nephew if everything was ok, certainly not the reason for my call. Tears ran down my face and I forgot how to breathe, I told him that we could not continue. My mother didn’t want us to be together, she was willing to take any method to make it clear. I could not be any more of a burden to her, I hoped that he would agree with me and let it be. Silently I waited for his response, I prepared for the worse, but in exchange he opened his heart to me and proposed his love to me, forever. Probably my thoughts took some time to adjust, but I knew that I could never ask for anything better, and so I said yes.
I cannot say that telling my mother the news was a delight, because it was the opposite. It was very difficult for me as-well, but I cannot see my life without Dyrlan. We got married on April, 30 2010 and the impact that I expected to get from my family was the opposite; we have never been so close, my mother loves my husband, my sister admires him and congratulates me, and my brothers looks up to him as an older brother too. Love found its way to me; it brought many surprises along the way and many moments that know are a great laugh at the dinner table when we all get together. I too, admire my husband, his strength and perseverance, I trust him and no matter what happens in the world, there is nothing that we cannot overcome, as long as we stay together the way we did to get to where we are.
How My Experiences Have Made Me Stronger
The train started to move. I felt afraid, I do not know what will happen to me after 18 hours, but all I know, it is my own decision. Last year, I decided to leave my Faculty of Law in Alexandria, where I was a junior, to be a new student in the Faculty of Arts, Public Relations Department, in Aswan. Taking this risk, was increasing my leadership abilities, adapting to a new community, and influenced others.
I believe in education for sustainable development through extracurricular activities. For that, I participate as a member of a committee, in extracurricular activities to learn new skills, and influenced others. For example, through my participation on a Public Relation committee in a Model called Moic’18 “Model organization of Islamic Co-operation “. I have learned to be a person who can lead, making deals, and decisions. Based on that, in the following year, I choose to be a giver and a leader.
For that, I was chief of the Public Relations committee of Moic 19, during this Model, one of my objectives was to empower young leaders in Public relations. Thus, I gave them training for one month, about how to write a proposal, make deals, and how to use tools as SWOT analysis. By the end of the Model, I got deeply into my Leadership abilities, I discovered my passion, and which field I am talented in. For that, I have taken the risk and changed my college to studying Public Relations.
In my first year as a new student, I started to face some challenges. These were the weather and different culture shocks. In the background, I was a volunteer with Syrian refugees, who moved from Syria to Egypt. This experience has given me the strength to be a person who can adapt to different mindsets quickly. In a short time, I built networks with my colleagues and roommates. Also, I participated in different club activities in the university such as the Developer student club as a Public Relations member. Through my participation in differents clubs helped me to know more about the culture in Aswan as the Nubian music. At the end of the year, the final results of college came out, I was ranked as the 4th. When I saw the result, I was so proud of myself for taking this risk, not only for my academic grades but also for my ability to adapt and influence in this new community.
Being in the UGRAD would help me develop my professional skills by taking specific courses, building a connection with my professors and colleagues, which would help me to ripen my understanding of the field I am passionate about. Also, I believe that being selected as a UGRAD student will increase my self-awareness and self-esteem. For instance, participating in community service will give me a chance to learn about new cultures, sharing my own, and will get me involved, survive, and adapt on the university campus.
Ultimately, I would like when I return to complete my education with an excellent GPA to help me in my Master’s degree when I graduate. Moreover, I will participate in Undergraduate research in Public Relation. Also, I would stand beside my colleagues to pass along my knowledge and experience with them when I was on the UGRAD campus.
In conclusion, when I took a train, and I left my home city to study what I want. I was worried about the new community. Notwithstanding, while staying in Aswan, I learned that the travel experience is not only about academic achievements but also about building new networks and know more about the life perspective by learning about different cultures. Based on my experience, I believe that being a UGrad student will expand my self-development in many aspects as Educational and communications skills.
In 2014, I started to be an active person in the community, and I believed in social impact. For that, I participated in many civil work activities as the Stock Market Simulation project and Egyptian Diplomatic Project. In that time, I worked on my personality, skills and expanded my networks. Also, I have got a scholarship called the “Access pipeline program”. Moreover, I started planning for my future, but there is something that happened I never expected.
One day, I felt something wrong with the shape of my breast. For that, I did concentric circles in my both breast. I found a small hard lump that was like a ball. I was shocked. In next day, I went to a doctor to examine me and did an ultrasound. The result showed that I have a “Complex Fibroadenoma” type of non-cancerous tumor. During that time, I did an operation to remove the tumor, but it returned. At that time, my mother warned me and emphasized that I should not let anyone knowing about my illness. I was struggling and felt ashamed. I have started withdrawing from many volunteer activities and taking steps back from my social life, I was closed to myself. Moreover, I have delayed screening tests because of my feelings of shame and fear.
Two years later, the tumor was growing crazy with an acuted, and I cannot take my breath because my breast was so heavy. That time was so serious. I was confused, I did a biopsy. When results came out, the doctor told me that I have a slight risk of developing breast cancer. For that, it ended by did the second operation. When I did the surgery, and I was a fusion in the treatment. I figured out, because of my lack of knowledge, I delayed my screening test. So, that put me at risk of having breast cancer. Depend on this, I started to increase my knowledge, about my health condition, so I read a lot of articles about benign breast conditions and cancer tumors. Based on that, I decided to accept this tumor. Would not let my fear of that tumor affected my plans, life, or even decided my future. Moreover, I decided to raise awareness among other women.
Accordingly, I got an internship in SEO search engine optimization. During the internship, I started to speak up with my colleagues. I helped them to be aware of their health and how to examine themself by concentric circles. A day later, one of my colleagues told me that she found something in her breast. I comforted her and encouraged her to see a doctor. Unexpectedly, her results came out that she has breast cancer. It was a hard time, but I felt happier because I saved a human life. From this situation, I believed helping others what makes us human beings and gave us a satisfying feeling. I never expected that when I shared my experience through this tumor and how I discovered It. I will save the life of someone else. For that, I believe that I can save more lives by sharing my experiences.
In Conclusion, my personality was affected a lot by that tumor in my breast. Having a struggle with physical health, not always is a bad thing. It taught me to have more confidence, patient. Also, I learned to take things simply, feel for others and appreciate their pain and dreams. Also, it’s increasing my positivity and helping other people.
How The Global UGRAD Program Will Help Me Achieve And Give Back
Four years ago, I had the opportunity to take part in a two-week Exchange program in Georgia, USA. This program gave me valuable knowledge about leadership, career planning, and American culture. When I came back to Egypt, I made a deliberate attempt to integrate the lessons learned from this experience into my everyday life. Consequently, I started actively participating in various extracurricular activities as a volunteer. By getting involved in these activities, I was able to discover my true passion and identify the field where my innate talents are best suited.
After two years, I decided to leave my junior position in the Faculty of Law in Alexandria and enroll as a fresh student in the Faculty of Arts, Public Relations Department, in Aswan.
During my first year as a new student in a distant city, I faced various difficulties such as adjusting to the climate, finding limited local activities, and dealing with cultural differences. However, I was able to overcome these challenges relatively quickly. I expanded my social network and developed friendships with both my peers and roommates. Additionally, I actively participated in national and international events that were related to my field of study. For example, I attended an Animation workshop at the Aswan International Women Film Festival and had the honor of being selected for a Film Directing and Script Masterclass held in Luxor during the Luxor African Film Festival.
During my stay in Aswan, I observed the limited opportunities for learning and gaining experience that were available to students. In order to give everyone a fair chance, I began sharing my thoughts, knowledge, and past mistakes with them. Additionally, I provided information about exchange programs they could apply for. My objective is to motivate them to take action and expand their horizons beyond our city’s limitations.
In October 2020, the final college results were announced and I achieved fourth place. This achievement not only reflects my academic performance but also demonstrates my ability to adapt and inspire others within this new community. Remembering all of this fills me with immense pride for taking such a risk.
I am a goal-oriented person and, during a program I attended in the USA, I visited various universities and colleges. It was during this time that I developed a belief in the land of opportunity and set a goal to study in the USA someday. While Public Relations is my passion, my university’s academic education does not align with the demands of the labor market. Hence, being in the USA would enable me to enhance my professional skills and establish connections with professors and colleagues. This experience would also aid me in discovering my own voice and identity. Moreover, I view participating in an exchange program as more than just achieving academically; it is about creating new networks too. Through campus residence and involvement in community activities like international events, I eagerly anticipate immersing myself in diverse cultures from all over the world.
This program will assist me in achieving my future career objectives and becoming more eligible for internships within a corporation. Additionally, it will equip me with the ability to adjust and integrate into foreign communities and international corporations. Moreover, it will provide me with the necessary skills and resources to collaborate with my colleagues and share my knowledge with them upon my return.
In 2019, I assumed the position of head of Public Relations for the Moic’19 project, also known as “Model organization of Islamic Co-operation”. This marked my first experience leading a project since I had previously served only as a committee member. Despite initial confusion, I opted to accept accountability and ensure the project’s success. To achieve this, I assembled a team comprising one female and one male member. Over the span of a month, I provided them with training on composing proposals and negotiating deals while collaboratively establishing our objectives and timelines. Throughout the endeavor, we encountered obstacles stemming from insufficient sponsors and funding. Regrettably, my team ultimately departed due to exams and assignments. Although this left me disheartened, I resolved to persevere and validate myself.
Despite facing financial challenges, I was motivated to persevere because of my sense of responsibility. To better understand the project’s strengths and weaknesses, I performed a SWOT analysis. The project had a significant participation from college students, approximately 150 participants, along with a committed staff and an efficient media committee. However, the weak point was still the financial situation. To overcome this hurdle, I brainstormed and devised a solution: producing and selling notebooks. With this plan in mind, I started working tirelessly to transform this concept into actuality.
The initial step I took was to poll the other committees and participants on our Facebook group to determine if they agreed with my idea. Eventually, everyone reached a consensus. Subsequently, I approached the media committee to collaborate on the designs while simultaneously searching for a founder. Initially, three potential founders declined the opportunity, but I eventually found one who agreed to financially support my notebook project.
After searching for an affordable printing press, I found one that offered good quality and printed 200 notebooks. I sold 100 of them at popular co-working spaces and students’ centers, while the rest were placed on a model corner. Surprisingly, the notebooks achieved unexpected success, leading the owners of the co-working places and centers to reach out to me for more notes. Even the participants of these spaces asked for more notebooks. The idea turned out to be more successful than expected, covering all expenses for my project. Additionally, there was still demand for the notebooks even after completing all projects.
In the end, I encountered a daunting situation and handled it on my own, which proved to be extremely tough. Nevertheless, I managed to conquer it and accomplish an unexpected triumph. Throughout this experience, my attention was not only on resolving the financial aspect but also on building a broad network of connections that could aid future individuals in similar situations.