Professors, Friends Rush to Help Yemeni Student Stay in the US
The last time we checked in with Mohammed Jubary, who studies mechanical engineering technology at Missouri State University, Saudi Arabian-led airstrikes were pummeling his hometown of Sanaa, Yemen. The electricity grid was down, and his family’s generator depended on fuel that was hard to come by. His parents’ income was slashed and at least one relative had died.
“It was a two day operation, looking through every hospital. Calling every member in the family to go check hospitals. And they eventually found him, and couldn’t recognize his face. Because he was burned, and half his face was cut. They could just recognize his finger. His ring,” Jubary said.
Around the time of that interview, The International Committee of the Red Cross announced that one million people in Yemen had contacted cholera. Famine is also widespread now. The US is supporting Saudi Arabia in its war against Yemen.
We checked in with Jubary recently to see how things were going.
“In terms of my family situation, not much has changed,” he said. “The same situation with salaries: [they] have not been paid.”
And the air strikes keep coming, he said.
But what has changed is his ability to pay for his schooling.
You may recall: Houthi rebels that took control of Yemen’s capital seized the treasury and stopped paying salaries of state workers, including his mom, who teaches at a university. His dad’s business suffered tremendously, too.
Jubary took a job working at Paul Mueller Company in Springfield—while still a full-time student.
But he’s way behind on his tuition payments.
He says Missouri State University officials have considered his special situation, and they've given him several grace periods. But tuition is so long overdue, he’s about to lose his status as a student. He can’t register for next semester’s classes. That means he’s about to lose his student visa and have to leave his dreams in the US behind.
As a last resort, Mohammed approached his professor.
Dr. Kevin Hubbard is the coordinator of the mechanical engineering technology program here at Missouri State University.
“I came to Dr. Hubbard after I exhausted all my resources in the university. And I was at the point, that, ‘Okay, I don’t know what to do now.’ So I remember walking into the lab,” Jubary said.
“We began to, Mohammed and I, to explore other avenues to help him,” Hubbard said.
But after that meeting, Hubbard wrestled with what to do.
“I got up, and the house was quiet. I was getting ready to go to work. And I thought, ‘What are you gonna do, Kevin? Why don’t you do something?’” Hubbard said.
So, he decided he’d start a fund, beginning by digging into his own wallet. And, he thought, I wonder if my colleagues would want to pitch in?
“And they did. They responded. Dr. Jones, one of our other engineering technology professors, didn’t even let me finish. He said, ‘Whatever it is, I’m in.’ And all of my colleagues did the same,” Hubbard said.
Meanwhile, Jubary assumed Hubbard had forgotten about the request.
“And one day he came, and he was like, ‘I have not forgotten about you. I’m starting a fund for you.’ And I still remember my smile was, like, from one side to the other,” Jubary said.
“It was a really great gesture, because I was at the point where I was really hopeless. And it gave me so much hope,” Jubary said.
In gratitude, Mohammed said if he graduates, he'll create a fellowship for the university’s mechanical engineering technology program for students like him in the future.
The GoFundMe project was created several weeks ago, and it didn't generate a lot of traction. As of this month, Jubary has only raised about $1,600 toward his goal of $15,000. You can find a link to that here.
Jubary only has this summer to find the money. He can’t bring himself to tell his family he’s about at the end of his options, since they are already struggling with life or death in a war zone.
He says it’s out of his hands now, but no matter what happens, he will remember the kindness of people he’s met here.
Mohammad Jubary aspires to be the president of Yemen one day, and says he would like to use the ideals he’s learned here in the US to heal his country.