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Dean’s Award 2024 – After a long and challenging journey, Manar Tayeh graduates as one of Sacramento State’s top students

Manar Tayeh, Communication Sciences and Disorders major, is the Dean's Award winner for the College of Health and Human Services. (Photo courtesy Student Affairs/Hazart Sanker)

It took her more than a decade, but Manar Tayeh never gave up on the idea of earning her college degree.

Not only is Tayeh graduating this month from Sacramento State, but she will do so as one of this year’s top students. She is the Dean’s Award winner for the College of Health and Human Services. Deans’ Awards are given at Commencement to the top graduating student from each of Sac State’s seven academic colleges.

Tayeh’s degree is in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She plans to return to Sac State in the fall to pursue her master’s, the next chapter in an educational journey that has been long and challenging.

She grew up in Brooklyn, part of a Middle Eastern culture in which girls were not encouraged to attend college. But she valued education, and wanted to pursue a degree.

“Communication is everything. I’m so excited at the idea of being part of changing someone’s life for the better.” -- Manar Tayeh

She enrolled at CUNY Brooklyn College, originally studying education, but after two years moved across the country to San Jose to be closer to her husband’s family. She soon discovered she was pregnant, and put her education on hold. The family grew to include three children.

“But college was always in the back of my mind,” Tayeh said. “I was afraid I would lose the drive the longer I waited, but I really didn’t. I saw the importance of education, and I wanted to show that to my son and my two daughters.”

In 2021, the family moved to Sacramento, and Tayeh set her sights on Sac State. By then, a cousin had been diagnosed with autism, which sparked her interest in speech and language pathology.

“At first I just wanted to get my degree and be done,” she said. But she found that she loved her classes, her professors and her chosen field.

“I made lots of friends who also were moms, and we lean on one another,” she said. “All of my professors were amazing.”

Her husband’s flexible schedule helped her spend quality time with her children, who are now 11, 8, and 5, while she juggled classes and studying.

As she got closer to finishing her degree, she began to contemplate graduate school.

“It really wasn’t in my mind when I started, but I just love school and I want to continue my journey,” she said.

In nominating Tayeh for the Dean’s Award, Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders Laura Gaeta cited her “unwavering perseverance, resiliency and determination.”

She is “highly engaged, motivated, and a collegial peer in her large, diverse cohort,” Gaeta wrote.

Eventually, Tayeh would like to work as a speech and language pathologist, helping people who have suffered health crises regain their ability to communicate.

“Communication is everything,” she said. “I’m so excited at the idea of being part of changing someone’s life for the better.”

Tayeh, who earned a 4.0 GPA at Sac State, never imagined that she would graduate as one of the most exceptional scholars at her University.

“It feels surreal,” she said. “I almost can’t believe it.”

“But I guess that’s what happens when you’re doing something because you want to do it,” said Tayeh. “It’s not so hard if you’re doing something you love.”

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About Cynthia Hubert

Cynthia Hubert came to Sacramento State in November 2018 after an award-winning career writing for the Sacramento Bee. Cynthia believes everyone has a good story. She lives in East Sacramento with her two cats, who enjoy bird-watching from their perch next to the living-room window.

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