Diversity: Getting to Know the Students of EvCC

The Clipper's series on diversity continues with Ahmad Zaferi, second year biomedical engineering student at EvCC.


Simon Krane

Ahmad Zaferi, biomedical engineering student at EvCC recounts his journey from boarding school to independent college life.

“I did not have enough time to prepare myself. I was told I was going to a boarding school one week before I had to go.”

Ahmad Zaferi, 13-years-old at the time, would leave his family and friends behind and spend the next five years of his life in a boarding school approximately 217 miles away from home. There he would stay with a goal to get the best education while under the care of strangers.

Zaferi, now 20, was born and raised in Malaysia. He is the second of four children. He has one older and two younger sisters. His father, Zaferi Abdullah, is a legal advisor and his mother, Azni Ariffin, is a Malaysian Airports Holding Berhad company secretary.

According to Zaferi, on average, a student can go home up to ten times a year. But his first year at the boarding school was difficult so he went home as many times as he was able to. His parents would come to get him on weekends but there were times when he would take the bus home alone. “I cried almost every night and it took me about four to five months to get used to it,”

Then, in high school, most of his friends were moved to an elite school leaving him. This made him feel left out but instead of lingering on this feeling, he had the sense of responsibility to help the rest of his classmates. He was later elected as the President of Student Council. Zaferi used this opportunity to talk to the student body to let them know they were not being abandoned. He and the council members encouraged and motivated the students to succeed.

After graduating high school, Zaferi gained an academic scholarship to study abroad. He was one of the fifty who passed the interview and examinations out of two hundred students, most of them from elite schools where his old friends went to. Today, Zaferi is in his second year studying biomedical engineering at EvCC and hopes to go to the University of Washington or the University of Michigan.

Coming to EvCC was an exciting time for Zaferi. He said that transition was not very difficult. He made friends with his lab partner whom he said was nice to him. “The first quarter was very easy. I took Calculus, English and Chemistry…well, just easy. I got an A in Calculus and Chemistry and A- on English.” Zaferi added.  

The challenge now is having to do things he didn’t have to do while in boarding school. For example, cooking, paying bills, shopping and budgeting. But he admitted that the constraints he used to feel about boarding school helped him gain good structure.

“Boarding school gave me the stability, consistency and discipline,” said Zaferi.

photo courtesy Ahmad Zaferi
Ahmad Zaferi pictured with his family.