Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Kurdish refugee now breathes easier as respiratory therapy student

Havin Sindi has overcome more than her share of life’s challenges. A refugee from Kurdistan whose family was forced to flee after her father was threatened for cooperating with American troops, the Grossmont College scholar was often targeted with racist taunts and cries of “terrorist!” while growing up in El Cajon. Meanwhile, balancing two cultures, Sindi found herself struggling with English at school and being encouraged to speak only Kurdish at home.

“Over time, I have learned these obstacles have molded me into a respectful, educated, open-minded and bilingual speaker,” she said.

Her perseverance has paid off. Sindi is thriving at Grossmont College, where she has earned one degree in general studies with an emphasis in science and quantitative reasoning and is on track to earn a second associate degree in June 2019 in respiratory therapy. Her determination, volunteer work, and grades led the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges to award her a pair of scholarships this fall.

“Havin is in her second year of the two-year Respiratory Therapy program, and from the very first day of class she has demonstrated dedication and enthusiasm for her studies and her new profession,” said Professor Peggy Wells. “She works well with her peers, her instructors and the patients she comes in contact with. She is never absent, never late to class, and does her best to complete all assigned tasks. She volunteers above and beyond the classroom, and her dedication to becoming the very best respiratory care practitioner can be seen every single day.”

The road to Grossmont wasn’t easy. American authorities helped the Sindi family flee from Kurdistan shortly after she was born. Moving to Texas before settling in San Diego’s East County in 1998, Sindi graduated from El Cajon Valley High School in 2014 and had her sights set on Cal State L.A. but was unable to afford the move.

Coming to Grossmont College turned out to be a blessing.

“I love it here,” she said. “I’ve gotten all the help and support I need from the counselors and professors. Overall, it’s been pretty smooth.”

Sindi plans to start working as a respiratory therapist after graduating in the spring before returning to school for her bachelor’s degree.

She says she couldn’t have received better training than what she found at Grossmont.

“I love the program. It’s specialized and focuses on various specific diseases related to respiratory conditions. The instructors are awesome, they work in the field, and they are really helpful. Overall, it’s been a good experience.”

Indeed, virtually all Grossmont College graduates of the Respiratory Therapy program pass the National Board for Respiratory Care examination for certified respiratory therapists and for registered respiratory therapists, and the vast majority of graduates find work within one year.