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Hatter with 4 degrees gives back to Stetson

Ahmad portraitAhmad Yakzan is a Hatter with four degrees from Stetson—the only person with two degrees from each campus. His first two degrees—a bachelor’s in political science in 2003, and an M.B.A. in 2005, were both earned when he attended Stetson’s main, historic campus in DeLand. But he also earned his J.D. in 2008 and then his LL.M. in 2009 at the Stetson University College of Law, both law degrees in international law.

“My dream since I was in Lebanon was to become an attorney,” Yakzan explained. “I earned all my degrees from Stetson because of the support I received from the university. Stetson believed in me,” he said, crediting Stetson for allowing him to stay in the United States by providing funding enough to pursue his dreams at a time when it wasn’t popular to do so.

“One of my fondest memories is when we went to Silver Spring, N.Y. to compete at the Pace International Criminal Court Moot Court Competition. It was the first competition for the team members at the Law School,” he recalled. “We came back from Silver Spring with the first place trophy, beating the top schools of international law in the country. This is a testament to the quality of education and training I received at Stetson.” Yakzan now works as an attorney in the Tampa Bay area, representing immigrants to the United States.

“I wholeheartedly support immigration; after all, I am an immigrant myself. I came to the United States to follow my dream of becoming a lawyer. Immigrants come to the United States for a better life—the Statute of Liberty invites them to breathe freedom.”

Ahmad speakingIn September, Yakzan was invited to speak about Islamophobia at the DeLand campus for Stetson’s 9/11 Commemoration (pictured right). “I define Islamophobia as the fear of anything Muslim. It is a huge problem and a daily occurrence. We are lawyers, doctors, and philanthropists, and not all terrorists. Unfortunately, Muslims have not done enough to highlight their numerous achievements. It is incumbent upon us to enlighten our communities about this.”

One of the only Muslim students at Stetson at the time of the 9/11 tragedy, Yakzan persevered, although the external atmosphere of tension against Muslims was becoming palpable.

“I couldn’t believe the love and support that I received during those horrific times. I remember I was in class when the attacks happened. My Stetson family supported me in my time of need, and I knew that I had to educate my community. I had to tell them that not all Muslims are bad. I must admit that I was scared. This fear might have come out as anger; however, the love and support I was given calmed me down. You can say that the love I received led me to become an inspiration to others. I am committed to give back to Stetson.”

By George Salis