As an international student, Sadokat Khakimova has been determined to leave a legacy behind for all the San Jacinto College students coming after her, especially international students. Hailing from Uzbekistan, she knows first-hand how hard it can be deciding on a college to attend that's so far away from home, learning a new campus culture, and making new friends.
"In my country, community colleges have a stigma," she said. "It's not considered the best choice because it's not a university, and people say it's too hard to get a student visa to community colleges. But I didn't let that stop me."
Khakimova said she began to research community colleges even more because of the affordable tuition rates and university transfer opportunities. Additionally, the thought of being someplace new was the most appealing part.
"I wanted to go someplace where I didn't know anyone, and I wanted to experience a more independent lifestyle," she said. "I found out that San Jacinto College was a Top 10 community college in the nation and had really great transfer opportunities with partnering universities."
Upon arriving at San Jac, Khakimova found a great rhythm and successfully completed her first semester. Not long afterward she received an invitation to join the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.
"After joining PTK, I saw how I was growing as a student and a leader. I was making more friends, volunteering for more community charity opportunities, and becoming more confident. I was learning so much from everyone, especially the international student community, and I wanted to be able to help other students succeed in any way I could," she said.
Khakimova was later elected as the PTK chapter's president right as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The College underwent altered operations, which meant student organizations were not allowed to meet on campus and all activities were cancelled for the year.
Despite this challenge, she rallied her officer group, and they set out to make 2020 a record-breaking year for the PTK chapter. Their Honors in Action project focused on educational funding, studying, housing, and food resources for current and former foster care youth who remain one of the largest adult populations that don't complete a college credential. Their project earned them recognition in the PTK Hall of Merit, a first for the chapter. Additionally, Khakimova was elected as the PTK Division II International Officer, another chapter first (and the first from Uzbekistan).
Her academic success hasn't stopped there. She was recently named a Guistwhite Scholar, Oberndorf Scholar, Walter B. Cooper Scholar, and a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar — all with respective scholarships.
But Khakimova says the best thing has been being able to pay it forward as a math and science tutor helping others with their educational goals.
"I want to be remembered as someone who took every opportunity that came my way and gave back everything I could to my community," she said. "Meeting students who come in feeling defeated by their math and science classes, dreading anything to do with them, and at the end of the semester telling me thank you — how they're completing the class with an A or B or that this was the last class they needed to pass to graduate — those are some of the best things I've ever heard."