by TRAVIS BRAASCH
Amanuel Logo is a little different than most students you encounter at Pima Community College. He was born in Africa, in the city of Barentu, Eritrea and, as a child he was already presented with challenges. He didn’t have the same opportunities growing up as many other students.
The star athlete for the Aztec track and field team is grateful for his new beginnings in Tucson. A dental hygienist major, attending Pima since 2013, he has been running his whole life. The refugee turned local Tucsonan, found his niche in sports after a trek he’ll never forget—his path from Africa to the United States.
At the age of 12, Logo’s mother Mattu Humed decided to take her five children from Eritrea to neighboring Ethiopia. It’s a common pathway to immigrate to the United States. More than 473,000 people migrated to the U.S. from Africa in 2013 alone for opportunities for a better life, according to the Pew Research Center.
“It was hard for my mother to leave her siblings and her mom,” Logo said. “I was excited to move, but I didn’t know I would be missing them this much.”
Eritrea has mandatory military service for all males after graduating from high school, but Logo’s mother didn’t want that kind of life for her children.
“We would have to walk to other cities at night because we didn’t want Eritrean soldiers to find us,” Logo said. “If they found us leaving Eritrea, they would put us in jail.”
From Eritrea, their first stop was in Sudan, where they were able to stay with a family for a few weeks before moving south. Once in Ethiopia, Logo’s family was reunited with his father who abandoned the military to be with his family and escape west. It was the first time they had seen their dad in a long time, said Logo.
“We could barely see him when he was in the army,” he said.
The reunited family spent the next three years living in Shimelba, a refugee camp located in northern Ethiopia, while they waited for their proper paperwork to process so they could make it to the U.S. in 2009.
“Now I am here, doing what I can to help my people,” said Logo.
As a child growing up in Africa, life was not easy but Logo found his passion in sports.
“Most kids in Africa love soccer. It’s considered to be the only sport there for most,” he said. “I didn’t really start track and field before moving to America because it’s not common in Africa. I like track and field, but I still love soccer.”
Since discovering his passion for sports and athletics, Logo worked hard in both school and sports while attending Catalina High School to obtain scholarships to further his education and attend school in the United States.
“I wanted to attend a university at first,” Logo said. “But I needed three language credits in order to attend a four year college. I was offered a scholarship from PCC to pay for my education, so why not go?”
Logo didn’t mind the move to Arizona because he loves the climate and year round sports that we have in the U.S. From hiking and biking to the many different public parks, Tucson has a great deal to offer those who are into outdoor activities.
“It’s different here than my home, but I like Arizona. It doesn’t snow or get too cold so you can always go out and do something,” said Logo.
Moving to a new country as a teenager has been an overwhelming challenge, but Logo loves challenges and has excelled because of his sheer determination.
“I have more opportunities here,” said Logo. “I can help make myself a better person with my education, and I can help myself, as well as my family.”
Since coming to Pima, Logo pushed himself to reach as far as he can in both cross country and track and field.
“Amanuel is always motivating us and setting the bar higher” said Anas Ali, a cross country teammate and refugee from Malaysia who has known Logo since they attended Catalina High together.
“He was the one who told me I should try running in high school, so I stopped playing as much soccer and started to run” said Ali.
After running in high school, both Logo and Ali continued their athletic progression at Pima.
“Amanuel is one of my role models. I really look up to him” said Ali. “We run together on weekends to train and he always pushes me to do better and better. He’s always there for me, in or out of school.”
Logo was the recipient of the All American Honorable Mention Award in cross country, an award given to the athletes who place top 15 overall at the NJCAA National Championships in Ft. Dodge, IA. Logo placed 11 out of 293 competitors.
“Working with Logo has been awesome,” said Aztec track and field coach Gregory Wenneborg. “He was really quiet at first and did well last year in all his times, but this year he has really come out of his shell and is doing exceptionally.”
After completing the current semester, Logo plans on transferring to a Division 1 university to continue his education in the dental hygienist field.
“I think he has a really good chance of getting a scholarship to a Division 1 school and doing really well in the future,” said Wenneborg. “He has the skills to become a school record holder.”
Logo said he’s proud of his first cross country win in Mesa last year and making it to nationals with the team.
“Keep going and never stop, keep going to school and take advantage of every opportunity you get,” said Logo. “Don’t let them pass you by, because they can change your life.”