Georgia Gwinnett College student weathers changes, lands job after graduation
Yara Daou knows how to stay afloat during the sea changes of life. Born in Lebanon, her family moved to the U.S. when she was 17. While most young people that age are just figuring out how to be comfortable with themselves, Daou had to let go of her homeland, travel 6,000 miles across the globe, learn a new language and figure out how to fit into a completely different culture. It was a sink or swim situation, and Daou turned out to be an excellent swimmer.
The next wave of change came after she graduated from Discovery High School in Lawrenceville in 2017. She was unsure what she wanted to do, so she applied to Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) since it was affordable, had a nice campus and was close to home. She planned to transfer to a larger university after one or two years, but after a few months on the GGC campus, that plan changed.
“By that time, I had already started to feel at home surrounded by students of all nationalities and religions,” she said. “I started to fall in love with GGC, its staff, its students, its class sizes, its landscape, and its culture. That is why I chose GGC, and why I decided to stay here.”
In 2018, she declared her major as information technology with a minor in business administration. As she became more at peace with herself, and more comfortable as a GGC student, she decided to become an orientation leader and intramural assistant.
“I loved both jobs equally, but something about being an orientation leader felt special and dear to my heart. In addition to helping incoming students sign up for their classes, I felt like an ambassador to them and their parents,” she said. “I always felt like I had a duty of paying forward what the school has given me and how much it has changed me.”
Daou said she wanted to get involved for a long time but was too shy to do it at first. When she finally took the plunge, it became one of the most rewarding experiences she had as a GGC student.
“Getting involved was the best thing I ever did. Once I got to step outside of my comfort zone and try it, it made my college experience a million times better.”
Becoming an orientation leader was life-changing and it also inspired her to get involved in other student organizations. She joined Women in Technology (WIT) in 2018 and was a scholarship finalist and student of the year finalist in 2020. She also became the president of Four Pillar Society. She said pushing herself to be involved is the best thing she did during her time at GGC.
“It has not only widened my knowledge and opened my eyes, but it also has made me a resilient person who is able to handle life’s difficulties.”
That resiliency was tested as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world in 2020. She was in her last year of school when students start looking for internships as the next step towards a career. The lockdowns completely shifted the economy and forced people out of the workplace, making internships nearly impossible to come by.
“I applied to more than 100 positions, and most of them kept either sending me a rejection email, canceling their internship programs, or never even getting back to me,” said Daou. “In moments like these, however, I reflected back on why I wanted this so badly, and that ‘why’ made me push through it. A few weeks later, I got the best offer I could ask for at an industry leader in the technology field.”
Daou was hired as a data center technical operations engineer at VMware in its Atlanta office and will start right after graduation. She looks forward to starting her professional career and experiencing more new adventures, wherever life’s currents take her.
Daou joins more than 750 students who will graduate at GGC’s hybrid spring commencement, scheduled for May 12 and 13. The celebration kicks off online at 7 p.m. on May 12 with keynote addresses by GGC’s president, commencement student speaker and Alumni Board chair. The celebration continues May 13 with in-person ceremonies at 8:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
In-person ceremonies will be live streamed at www.ggc.edu/commencement.