We recently sat down with one of our students, Manar Alhazmi, who is currently completing the elementary level of VIU’s ESL program. Her talent, determination, and personal story have made her family, teachers, and peers admire her, and I was eager to meet her myself. As a genuinely open person, Manar is strong enough to share her life with us, and she hopes that her story will inspire and motivate others.
It’s not Manar’s first time in America; in fact, when she was seven, her family lived in Los Angeles for nine months. By the time she went home to Saudi Arabia, Manar had already fallen in love with America, its people and environment. Her favorite aspect is everyone’s friendly smiles and greetings. Manar is now back with a big vision: to improve her English and earn her MBA degree in Healthcare Management.
Manar’s longtime dream has been to become a hospital manager, and she continues to overcome many obstacles to reach it. At the age of 10, Manar suffered from a serious illness and fell into a coma, staying in a hospital for many months. Although Manar’s loved ones were next to her and she had excellent medical care, she was still shocked at the sudden change in her life. Because she could no longer take care of herself, Manar started to give up hope of ever being a “normal” person able to walk, run, work or even hang out with friends.
I was curious as to her turning point and how she came from that low point at the hospital to being a healthy, energetic student in America. Manar credits her parents with her incredible improvement, and her “second chance at life.” When Manar was in the coma, “it was a very rough time for [her] parents to see [her] staying in bed day and night.” After six months, Manar finally left the hospital to continue her treatments at home. Her parents encouraged her to continue her exercises and her dad demanded that she continue her studies and stay strong, to “battle the disease in order to become a healthy and successful girl.” Manar completed high school and received her Bachelor’s degree from a university in Saudi Arabia. “Now I can do everything with my walker and my wheelchair,” she says. “I am always thankful to my parents for holding my hand and teaching me to fight for life. Without them, I would not be here today.” Her eyes turn tearful when she talks about her mother, Hanan Al Ahmadi and her father, Faisal Al Hazmi, a policeman who works tirelessly for his family of seven.
Her passion is helping children who suffer from illness. To make that dream come true, Manar pushes herself harder than ever. “I want to make new things which I didn’t find when I was in the hospital. It was very boring, and I had a hard time. Even though parents and friends come to visit you, something is still missing there. No matter how sick children are, they need time to play. There are no activities to make children happy!”
For Manar, learning from her VIU professors means not only speaking English better but having more confidence in herself. “I was very shy when I first spoke, but today, because of my great teachers, I love to interact with others. VIU is helping my dreams come true!” Manar also enjoys the wheelchair access available on campus at VIU, on the streets and even on buses, which, she says makes it easy for her to get around. “Some people beg for food or money in the street. They are healthy, they can walk, run, and work. They can do anything they want, earn enough to buy food or even a house,” Manar says seriously, from the bottom of her heart. “Right before I came to the USA, I worked at a hospital as a receptionist. The manager told me to study and come back, that I will be the hospital manager, and I will do it!” Manar is so positive and motivated that her attitude is contagious, “In the near future, I will walk without a walker, run, even travel all over the world. Nothing is impossible. I will make it happen.”
And you will, Manar. With hard work, an excellent education and a great support system anyone can succeed!