- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

FAIRBORN, Ohio (AP) - A young man whose family left the violent turmoil of Iraq has become a campus leader at a southwest Ohio college with a fast-growing international student population.

Fady Al-Banna, a 23-year-old senior, is the director of international affairs for student government at Wright State University. He is also on a dean of students advisory board.

New international students at Wright State increased by 42 percent last fall to 1,477, the school says.

Al-Banna said he enjoys the diversity of Wright State and appreciates the efforts to recruit students from other countries.

“That’s beautiful,” he said.

His family left Iraq in 2007 after his father had a harrowing escape when two men abducted him in his car at gunpoint. The family of four moved to Lebanon, and then to the United States in 2009.

He and his brother initially attended Dayton’s Sinclair Community College, where Fady started and led the International Club. They transferred to Wright State, where he is a finance major and brother Bashar is studying electrical engineering.

His mother didn’t want him to seek a student leadership position because of the time commitment, but he couldn’t stay away.

“This is me,” he said.

“What I really like about Wright State is the student government body,” Al-Banna said. “The students are being represented every day in various ways. Student government is advocating for these students.”

Al-Banna helped recruit 20 international students for the Raiderthon dance benefit that raised more than $50,000 for Dayton Children’s Hospital last November. He also suggested and helped organize a panel of international students for International Education week in November.

“Since meeting Fady, I’ve not only gained knowledge about Iraq, but also how politics and government can change a person’s life,” said Kyle Powell, vice president of the school’s student government. “Fady has been someone who you can talk to about anything, and he respects your values.”

Al-Banna had just come from helping a student in a wheelchair get to a meeting with his professor and to a lab.

“We need to welcome and help disabled students and other students in need,” he said.

He believes his planned future career as a financial planner is another way to help people, by helping them to financial stability.

“I want to influence people and make a difference in their lives,” he said.

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