If Hebba Griffiths had one wish, it would be to have a few extra hours in the day.
Between being a mom of two young children and overseeing a number of student programs as the interim associate dean of student life that include all Trio programs, the flea market, Project Leap, and Dream Keepers, Griffiths’ time is stretched thin. While it can be a challenge to head an office that needs constant channeling of communication between faculty, advisors and students, she loves that she is able to help students in any way she can.
“I love what I do, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” she said.
For the past 13 years, Griffiths has dedicated her career to helping students achieve their goals and finding their passion in life. Many of the programs that Hebba oversees have the common goal of helping low income, first generation college students get support and the chance for access to a higher education, which she identifies with as since she is a first generation college graduate.
Her family immigrated to the United States from Egypt in 1984 when her parents began to see the lack of opportunities in the country for their five children. Like many who have to make a new start in a new country, they did not have much and had to make sacrifices.
Despite her background, she was able to get the motivation and direction she needed to go to college when she participated in the Upward Bound and Trio Programs in high school.
“When you make community with peers who come from the same background as yourself, who have the same goals and dreams as you, your more likely to move forward together,” Griffiths said.
Griffiths was also fortunate enough to come across an Upward Bound counselor who went out of her way to help her both inside and outside the classroom. Despite being an undocumented student unsure of how to pay for college, she was able to help make Griffiths’ dream of going to college a reality by helping her find other financial means.
“She was able to advocate for me, advocate for family, and be the personal support, the academic support I need,” Griffiths said.
Her enthusiasm for helping students grew as she attended college at UC Santa Barbara and began to work with Trio programs similar to the ones at PCC. She became more involved around campus and with high school students around the communities where she lived.
While she thought law school might be in her future, her thought process began to shift toward giving back to her community and getting her Masters in Education with an emphasis on guidance and counseling.
“It gave me the tools to be able to come back and really help students on a holistic level, not just inside the class room,” Griffiths said.
Prior to moving into her current position, Griffiths was Director of the Trio Programs, which are federally funded programs that work with low income first generation students. Beatriz Sapiens, the acting director of the Upward Bound Program, said that Griffiths’ natural ability to lead and her approachable personality actually motivates her personally and professionally.
“She pushes me to want to grow and be a better person,” Sapiens said.
Associated Students President Jordyn Orozco said working with Griffiths is really easy because she understands student life. She also has a level of empathy that is “rare to find in adults that work closer with community college students,” he said.
Hebba’s hard work has not gone unnoticed. She recently received a service award from the Western Association of Educational Opportunity Personnel (WESTOP) and she was chosen among other nominees for her length of service for educational equity programs.
“She has provided so much leader and guidance to our professional association,” Sapiens said.
The interaction Griffiths has with students on a daily basis gives her the motivation to keep going.
“My favorite part of the day is the interaction with the students, listening to what their needs are,” she said. “Sometimes all they need is to be listened to.”