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Faces of South - Student Profile

Miki Berhanu: Champion of Multiculturalism

Picture of campus

May 16, 2017

When Miki Berhanu, 21, first stumbled upon the Cultural Center at South Seattle College, tucked back near the pool tables in the Jerry Brockey Center, he couldn’t have imagined the impact it would eventually have on his life and college experience.

“It was really by accident that I got involved at the Cultural Center,” says Miki. “I remember the gym was closed that day and the game room wasn’t open either. To me it looked peaceful and inviting, and a place to hang out if I had an extended break in my schedule. I came back the next day and just kept coming back.”

Two years later, Miki is now a student commissioner for the Cultural Center, and assists with educational events and day-to-day operations for the space. The Cultural Center at South, part of the Office of Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion, including the Gender Equity Center and Veterans Student Center, provides students with educational opportunities about diversity, social justice, gender equity and multiculturalism. As a commissioner, Miki spends his time connecting students of color and underrepresented groups with leadership opportunities and support services on campus.  
As a lifelong lover of animals, Miki’s other passion lies in the natural world. Now in his third year as an Associate of Science student studying biology, Miki enjoys “understanding how organisms communicate and interact with one another.” He plans to attend a four year university after graduating from South, followed by graduate school. He also hopes to bring the skills he has developed from working and spending time in the Cultural Center to his future career as a scientist in a professional research lab. 

“When you are working a lab environment, it’s all about communication,” says Miki. “Other areas that I can bring with me to the field of biology are my teamwork skills, organizational skills and just becoming comfortable collaborating with people of all backgrounds. Chances are I will know something about their culture from working at the Center.”

A West Seattle native, Miki says he had a somewhat sheltered upbringing, but his time spent hanging out and working in the Cultural Center has helped him “understand how to see the world from another person’s point of view.” He also notes that his work serving students has helped him overcome his natural shyness, by opening himself up to new and returning students visiting the center.

“I have evolved and grown so much as a person since I first came to the Cultural Center and South Seattle College.  It’s where I learned so much about myself and people of so many diverse backgrounds,” says Miki. “It’s great that we have so many inclusive places on campus for students, especially for them to make new friends and take people out of their comfort zones.”