Taimi Hasanbek: Staying on the Path of My Dreams

Taimi Hasanbek has been on the move for years, but his path has always stayed the same. Now in the U.S., he’s finally reaching his dreams and obtaining the education he has been working to finish through a number of obstacles in a number of countries. This story is part of MALA’s scholarship essay contest. To see more scholarship essays, click here.


Life is a journey of choices and consequences, these choices can be within one’s control or imposed due to uncontrollable circumstances. Very few people have control over their lives, but everyone can maintain their dream and do everything within their control to reach it.

My name is Taimi. I’m a 31-year-old man who was born in Syria, lived in Saudi Arabia and was stranded between Jordan, U.A.E. and Turkey before making it to the U.S. in 2013. When I was young, I remember my dad was mostly away doing whatever he could to provide for our family of five. My mother raised three children by herself using whatever my dad sent her at the time, while dealing with us, three growing kids, all wondering and asking questions of all kinds. She did what she could, and it was hard.

Later, I moved with my parents to Saudi Arabia where my dad worked as an engineer. I attended high school there until I turned 18 and had to leave. There was no affordable education for me in Saudi, therefore, my dad sponsored my studies in Jordan for a couple of years before he was no longer able to maintain it. At that point I felt my dreams of graduation and earning a master degree were shattered. As a Syrian national, the government of Syria refused to renew my passport unless I drafted in the military, which I refused, and I couldn’t afford to pay my way out of it. I was stranded in Jordan for two years without work authorization and no income, just stuck. I watched my dreams diminish.

In those two years, I witnessed hunger, homelessness and despair. Until, by a stroke of luck, I managed to get to Dubai and renew my passport with the help of a good man who volunteered to assist me. There, I worked for three years while saving to go back to college, and indeed, I did. I registered at the Canadian University but could not afford to continue due to restrictions on student loans for non-nationals and because of high living costs and my insufficient income.

In 2013, as I faced my passport problem for the second time, I had to find a way out. Making matters worse, the Syrian civil war was in full force. So, I applied for a tourist visa to the U.S., and I was approved. It was an unexpected turn of events. I promised myself back then that I will not waste any chance to achieve my dream. I believed that this chance was given to me to correct my life path, and I’ve been working on enriching that path since I arrived.

I filed for an asylum, and I’ve been waiting for an interview since then. Unfortunately, with the current political situation, I’m expecting my asylum case to take longer than it would normally, and as an asylum applicant who has been waiting on an interview for three years now, I don’t have time to lose. I’ve registered in Hillsborough County Community College, and after 12 months of study, I’m almost done with my degree in business. I’m now registering at the University of South Florida for a degree in finance, transferring all my credits from the community college to university to achieve the first step of my dream.