Mohanna named student speaker for 2017 graduation
By Sarah Kirkpatrick, Staff Writer
After a competitive selection process, Gettysburg College has named senior Haya Mohanna as the Class of 2017 graduation speaker. Mohanna, an international student from Gaza City, Palestine, is a Mathematical Economics Major with a Business Minor who hopes to focus on the theme of belonging in her speech.
“Coming from an international perspective, there is a lot of pressure to feel that I am a part of this campus or that I belong, but if you think about it, that pressure is on everyone,” Mohanna explained with respect to the content of her speech, “Everyone would like to think they fit in here because they made this college their choice. Some of us do and some of us don’t, but we all share that we made it.”
She hopes to celebrate the class’ achievements and encourage them to take their experiences beyond campus.
Mohanna was nominated by a faculty member to give a speech, and she competed in a competitive group of about 30 applicants before ultimately being selected by the Student Activities and Greek Life committee.
Mohanna is an active member of the campus community and ambassador for her Palestinian culture. Beginning in her first year, she got involved in campus life by working at the Office of Residential & First Year programs (RFYP), participating in international students’ events, and serving as an economics PLA for several classes.
Like many Gettysburg students, Mohanna’s favorite experience from her time as an undergraduate was studying abroad. She spent the fall of her junior year in Aix-en-Provence, France, which she enjoyed as a change of pace and way to encounter new cultures.
However, Mohanna also immersed herself in American college life, forming strong relationships with her friends, classmates, and professors to teach them more about what it means to be Palestinian.
I hope to be remembered as the Palestinian girl. I carry a lot of pride of my nationality and the area I come from, so I made efforts to open up about the situation at home and my culture. I hope I was able to open up some people’s eyes to what is happening in that area and demolish some stereotypes about being a Palestinian, a Middle Eastern and a Muslim.
After college, she is considering working as a business analyst and later attending graduate school to obtain a master’s degree in Behavioral Economics. However, before she leaves Gettysburg, she plans to share the lessons she has learned during her time as an undergraduate with the student body.
Speaking from experience, she advises incoming first years to embrace their moments as an undergraduate and reach out of their comfort zones as often as possible.
“These four years are the last period before you face full-on adulthood so you need to live a little,” she explained. “Create memories with people you enjoy, challenge yourself both academically and personally, and shape the person you want to become.”