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  Sankofa Awards
Recipients of the Sankofa Award are selected by the Black Faculty, Staff and Administrators Network (BFSA) and receive $1,000 each, provided by donors through the President’s Fund
Abdelkareem Khogali
Abdelkareem Khogali left Egypt with his family three years ago because his parents thought their children could get a better education in the United States. He found that and more at De Anza.
The 20-year-old is
graduating with a Liberal
Arts degree, with an emphasis in Science, Math and Engineering. He is transferring to San José State this fall, where he plans to study civil engineering before continuing on to a master’s degree.
Abdelkareem had hoped to play soccer when he first enrolled at Mount Pleasant High School in San José,
but it was the wrong season, so he tried track and field instead. He grew to like running so much that he came to De Anza in part because of its strong track program
– even though the campus is a 40-minute commute from his home.
As a sprinter, Abdelkareem specialized in 400-meter and 200-meter events. He was also captain of this year’s men’s team, which made a strong showing this spring before the coronavirus outbreak forced a cancellation of their season.
“He definitely had the respect of the whole team,” said Nick Mattis, track and field coach, who added that Abdelkareem was named captain because he was hard- working and “led by example.”
Abdelkareem said he was determined to maintain a strong GPA while competing as an athlete. The shift
to online classes was a challenge, but he learned new ways to research online and he appreciated the chance to communicate with instructors through online chat.
“I always ask questions,” he said. “I always took the opportunity to get extra credit, whenever possible.”
While studying full time, Abdelkareem also worked part time in a frozen yogurt store. He plays guitar for fun.
Billy “Artie” McNeal
Artie McNeal took the long way to college: The 50-year-
old Army veteran worked as a truck driver, security officer and carpenter after completing his military service in the 1990s. It wasn’t until much later that he decided to enroll at De Anza.
Artie, whose first name is Billy,
uses his middle name with
friends. He is graduating with degrees in Liberal Arts and Kinesiology. He would like to continue his schooling and become a chiropractor, or pursue certification to work as a strength coach for college or professional athletes.
The Santa Clara resident is also currently training a disability service dog named Ivory. He found the husky-shepherd mix through the Animal Rescue Foundation, which provides service dogs for military veterans.
It wasn’t easy going back to school at his age, he admitted.
“I went to school so long ago, I kind of had to start over from ground zero.”
But he liked his instructors and being around younger students. He grew fond of talking basketball with Math instructor Mo Geraghty, a fellow hoops fan who taught him in Statistics.
“Artie told me in the first week that he was worried about passing the class, but he would work hard to learn the material,” Geraghty recalled. “Eventually he was working with other students and actually teaching them. He always kept his sense of humor and because of this, other students would follow his example and work hard as well.”
Another highlight was participating in De Anza’s Cross Cultural Partners program, which pairs up students from different countries to foster friendships and build English conversational skills.
Artie’s advice to other students: “Immerse yourself at
De Anza. I did, and because of that I made a lot of friends for life.”

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