By Evelyn Farkas
ATLANTA — International citizen is a fitting description for Yanet Berakhi, an Honors College student and member of the class of 2022. While she is of Eritrean ethnicity, she was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, where she attended an Egyptian school before moving to the United States on her 16th birthday.
The two-time emigrant immediately immersed herself in even more cultures at Parkview High School, even joining the HoPe club, a nonprofit organization promoting education for Latinx students.
“I am not Hispanic, but I support everyone all the time,” she said.
Berakhi’s passion for supporting all cultures followed her through college, where she was active in both the Latina and Caribbean organizations on Georgia State’s campus as a first-year student before joining the Model UN as a sophomore. She enjoys putting herself into the shoes of different countries she is representing and using the experience to see new perspectives that expand her worldview.
“[Model UN] made me realize there are problems all over the world,” Berakhi said. “It actually forces you to solve the problems. In these conferences, the goal is to come up with solutions — solutions that not only encompass your country, but every country. You have to problem-solve. It’s not just a conversation.”
Most recently, she won an Outstanding Delegation Award while representing South Africa, developing a plan to make transportation more sustainable. She hopes to couple her appreciation and understanding of world cultures with her double major in Political Science and Economics to work in nonprofit public policy and someday become a diplomat.
But Berakhi is not waiting on a diploma to start helping others. During her time at Georgia State’s Honors College, she interned with the International Rescue Committee’s Economics Empowerment Department, where she found employment for immigrants she was assigned to work with and conducted workshops on professional development and American customs to prepare them for success in the workforce. She was also active on the political front, interning for U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff. Alongside other legislative aides, she helped draft and propose the Homes Bill, a potential law that would lower mortgage rates for teachers and first responders who otherwise couldn’t afford to live in the communities where they work.
“My motivation is, nothing gets done in politics, so be that person that gets things done,” Berakhi said.
As a senior, Berakhi is involved in student government, serving as the president of the Honors Student Organization. She was humbled to be elected to the position and has worked hard to promote a sense of community in the Honors College, organizing mentoring programs and a “Tips and Tricks” senior panel to give advice to newer students.
Outside of school, Berakhi often volunteers at Hands on Atlanta and local food banks. Her passion for service comes in part from her experience being her father’s sole caretaker since she was 16 years old, because her mother was unable to immigrate with the rest of the family until this year. Berakhi is glad to be reunited with her mother in time for her graduation, and gives this advice to her fellow graduating peers:
“There’s a lot of anxiety about what will happen in the future, and I always say, ‘What’s happening right now? What are you doing now?’ Focus on that and then you will figure out what your future will be. Your path will show itself.”
Photo by Bánh Bao Bobby