adult learner, English learner, Parents

A Mother’s Journey

By: Lara Talib, President of OmegaNU
My mom and I eating breakfast together while we were in Turkey

Every year since I’ve been at National University, I try to write a blog post about Women’s History Month and talk about my immigrant story and how I came to be the person I am, and every year I find it to get harder to condense and articulate. This time, I decided to change up how I wrote this post, and talk about my mother. The woman who literally spoke me back to life when I was born. 

There are a lot of things about my mom that I know, and so much more I believe I’ll never know. My mother was born in Iraq in the 70’s, she had 9 brothers and sisters, liked to read and write, was extremely smart, and easily the favorite sibling if you asked any of her siblings. She would help cook and clean for the family and was super into continuing her education. When I was younger, the coolest thing about her was that her and her siblings were an even number and split down the middle, with five boys and five girls. When I became a teenager, the coolest thing about her was that she was a rebel librarian at her University in Iraq. Now, as an adult, I really understand that the coolest thing about her is that she escaped a war she did not believe in and remained true to herself through and through. 

My dad was an optometrist, and also a rebel, so when they came for my dad to go to war, my dad said absolutely not and my parents decided to flee, knowing that my mom was pregnant with me. They walked hundreds of miles from Iraq to Iran, where I was born on the border in a small little hospital that no longer exists (it was burned down). From Iran they went to Turkey, then from Turkey, they were able to get asylum to the States. I was two by the time Asylum was granted and then we touched down in Arizona, where we stayed until I was about 5. 

My parents and I at one of the safe houses during our escape

When we got here, my mom threw herself into re-educating herself and working odd jobs to help make ends meet. My mom would work nights while my dad stayed with me, and then vice versa. When I started school, my mom also started school. She’d always valued education, and still does to this day (she’s the one that pushed for my Master’s). She took classes to learn how to speak English because her biggest fear was that she wouldn’t be able to communicate with her child if she never learned. 

When we moved to San Diego in 2002, she continued her education at the local community college, and then at SDSU where she got her Bachelor’s in Women’s Studies. This is also the time period she became pregnant and had my brother. Even while pregnant with her second kid, she continued to work odd jobs and go to school. There were times when she worked 2-3 jobs while also doing school and continuing to make time for her family. After SDSU, she found a job working for the International Rescue Committee and a job opportunity came to her, but she needed a Master’s for it. Although she didn’t get that job, it was motivation enough to get her first Master’s at Alliant University. Apparently, getting her Master’s still wasn’t enough. At this point, she was a professor at Grossmont College, teaching Arabic. A few years later,  the Arabic department wanted to start integrating the program into the high schools and she became the first Arabic teacher at the high school level in San Diego. With this, came an opportunity to go back and get a second Master’s in Teaching, which she did… At National University.

My family in Julian 2019
Meet & greet with NU President Dr. Milliron

This is just a brief overview of my mom’s background in two of the most important parts of her life; the escape from her homeland, and the education she values so much. My mom is still a teacher at two local high schools and is working to continue building the program. She is still her siblings’ favorite sister, she is still a reader and a writer. She is still a die-hard feminist, and she is still the best person I know.

community engagement

ICYMI: Making Connections at Spectrum!✨🎉🧧

The Center for Student Engagement and Activities + Alumni Relations hosted an engagement event on Friday, Feb. 3, at our Spectrum Campus in San Diego! We had a blast being in community with our amazing students and alumni!

We had presentations from our Student Clubs and Alumni Association, did a demo featuring great resources like the NU Mentoring Network and the Handshake Career Portal, and had a networking scavenger hunt game!

We enjoyed delicious food from China Express and Insomnia Cookies.

We gave away a bunch of NU Swag during our golden ticket raffles.

And of course—had fun! (We had a pretty amazing playlist if we do say so ourselves! Made in collaboration with our student clubs)

Want more? Check out these cute pictures from the event!

Avoid missing out on our future events! Keep up with us on our CSEA and be sure to check out the “What’s NU this Month?” page right on this blog to view our upcoming events and the monthly student club meeting schedule!

For our next event, we will be celebrating Black History Month with our third annual Black History Month Game Night, hosted by OmegaNU and Pride@NU! This virtual event will be on Tuesday, Feb. 21 from 4-5PM PST.

Don’t miss out—reserve your spot now! Register here.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us by emailing

We’ll see you at our next event! 🎈

In community,

Jasmine Banks, she/her

Student Engagement Coordinator


Meet Jasmine—Your New Student Engagement Coordinator!

Hi, NU Community! I’m so excited to be a part of this family and connect with all of you! ✨

Let me give you a little bit of my background. I’m originally from the East Coast (Pennsylvania) but have been in California for the past five years and currently reside in Los Angeles (if you have any recommendations for food spots, let me know!). Some of my identities that are important to me include being Black, queer, and a woman. These identities greatly inform my work and dedication to inclusivity within the higher education space and beyond.

Met Him at a Bar Restaurant – Los Angeles
Echo Park Lake – Los Angeles

I received my Bachelor of Arts from UC, Santa Cruz, where I studied both Psychology and Critical Race & Ethnic Studies. Getting to study these topics was really impactful for me because I grew up in a predominately white town in the suburbs of Philadelphia where critical race dialogue was not taking place or being centered, and so getting to engage and immerse myself within these fields empowered me to continue on with this work. I was also able to learn about and understand psychology from a decolonized lens which informs the collective care models I center my work within.

During my time at UC, Santa Cruz, I was involved in a variety of student groups and served in various student roles, like my work as a Student Educator for the Facilitators for Racial and Ethnic Diversity, a Program Coordinator for the African American Resource and Cultural Center and as an RA for the Social Justice & Diversity housing. It was these experiences that helped me find my community and belonging during college, while also allowing me to grow as a leader. This is why I’m a huge advocate for getting involved throughout college and look forward to helping all of you in your journeys.

Koi Pond at UC Santa Cruz
Oakes Lawn at UC Santa Cruz

In my previous professional role, I oversaw the First Generation Initiatives program of UC, Santa Cruz’s Educational Opportunity Programs office, which serves underrepresented student populations. Being a part of First Generation Initiatives was especially meaningful to me because I, like the students I served, was the first in my family to go to college. I had an amazing support system as I navigated academia and the higher education space, so I was happy to be able to give back and be that support system for others.

I hope to eventually go back to grad school and pursue a Ph.D. in social psychology. Along the way I want to conduct research on community-oriented approaches to psychological treatment, as well as help develop more inclusive mental health treatment that centers the experiences of marginalized groups. Some of the psychologists I look up to are Carl Jung and the late Dr. Aaronette White.

In my free time, I’m definitely more of a homebody, so you can usually find me in a cozy spot on the couch with a good book, writing, or watching the newest true crime documentary. When I do venture outside, I love to find nature spots to explore, like the botanical gardens at the Huntington Library and the rose garden at Exposition Park. I also love finding new food spots, going to museums, and browsing local bookstores. I’m an avid baker and am always bombarding my friends and neighbors with various baked goods.

Some of my interests include astrology, mindfulness, tarot, plants, home décor, cooking, baking, and true crime. If you ever want me to read your birth chart, feel free to message me! (I’m a Leo sun, Aquarius moon, and Scorpio rising for anyone who’s wondering).

Here is some music I enjoy:

Here are some of my reading recommendations:

How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community by Mia Birdsong
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
We Do This ‘Til We Free Us: Abolitionist Organizing and Transforming Justice
Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur

Now enough about me, I’d love to get to know you! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and use me as a resource as you navigate your time at National University and beyond. I am rooting for you and look forward to connecting!

P.S. I will be having Zoom office hours on Wednesdays from 4:30-5:30PM PST and by appointment. I look forward to seeing you there!

Zoom link:

Appointment link:

In community,

Jasmine Banks, she/her