By MICHEAL ROMERO
When Pima Community College student Selah Hadi wrote his name on a sign-in sheet for the Student Veterans Organization, it wasn’t clear to him that he was actually signing up to become president of the club.
“There was a staple that went through the word ‘president,’ so a lot of us didn’t know we were signing up to run,” he said.
When Student Services Coordinator Jorge Camarillo pointed out that nobody had volunteered for other positions in the club, Hadi stuck with the mix-up and successfully ran for president.
“He’s new, so he’s learning, but he’s a dependable, good student-veteran,” Camarillo said. “It’s a big responsibility becoming president of the Student Veterans Organization but he’s done a really good job in the timeframe.”
The SVO meets every first and third Friday of the month in the Veterans Center at Downtown Campus.
In his role as president, Hadi oversees meetings and their agendas while the club prepares for events like the Veterans Day Celebration on Nov. 11.
In conjunction with Pima’s Small Business Development Center, SVO helped put on the seventh annual Veterans Conference on Dec. 2. The conference was designed to help veterans attain small business loans.
Hadi worked construction and attended community college in Illinois before joining the Army.
He spent almost eight years in the military, from August 2006 until March 2013. He worked in the communications field as a satellite operator, setting up satellite dishes for ground-to-space transmissions.
At the beginning of his tenure, Hadi was stationed in Germany. He was given time off for both American and German holidays, allowing him extra opportunities to see other parts of Europe.
“I’ve been to pretty much every European country except for Italy,” he said. “And I’ve never made my way to Norway.”
While growing up in Iroquois County, Illinois, Hadi was part of an early version of Teen Court.
The program, which allows minors to be judged by their peers after they plead guilty to offenses, sparked his interest in law.
“I learned a lot from that,” he said. “And, that’s when I found out my passion was law and politics.”
Hadi is majoring in political science and minoring in criminal justice administration, with plans to transfer to the University of Arizona to study law.
He wants to become an international attorney in order to travel the world once again. “I love traveling and I love law, so when you put them together: international attorney,” he said.
As a long-term goal, Hadi plans to run for Congress. “I’m pretty ambitious,” he said.
Fellow SVO member and treasurer Kyle Hughes also plans to pursue law and public service.
“Like Selah, I would like to serve as a public official,” Hughes said. “If it’s city, if it’s county or anywhere else, I’d like to be a public servant and make sure things work.”
Hughes admires what Hadi accomplishes as a work-study student veteran and a single father.
“He has a big heart and has big ambition,” Hughes said. “He wants to learn, so he’ll hear you out.”
Hadi left the Army and moved to Tucson in order to stay close to his children. He began taking classes at Pima in Fall 2014 after issues with veteran benefits were resolved with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
He participates in a work-study program at the Veterans Center, operating the front desk to help those who come into the center with anything they might need.
In the bigger picture, he and other work-study participants make sure veterans are qualified to use all of their benefits.
Their main goal is enabling veterans to attain higher education at Pima through certifications or transfers to a four-year university. They also help veterans who want to enter the work force after Pima.
“We do anything we can do to provide the necessities veterans might need,” Hadi said.
Hadi plans to remain SVO president until he graduates next May.
He’s proud of everything he has accomplished with the opportunities that were laid out for him. “I got to do what I wanted to do and then go back to college, which was always my plan,” he said.