Twenty four-year-old Khodr Farhat may be blind, but that doesn’t keep him from seeing what’s important in life. The senior at UM-Dearborn has a dream of being a public servant, and he stays active in the community wherever he can.
His motto is simple: “I will shoot for the stars I cannot see.”
Farhat was born in Beirut, Lebanon with a likely inherited condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa. The condition is one in a million, and his sister has it too.
“Maybe science just decided to pick on us,” Farhat, a political science major, jokes. “I say I’m so thankful to be blind because I do always get a chance to thank my creator for the blessings he’s showered me with and I don’t judge people based on their looks, their appearance, their ability, or their house or their cars. The ability to see what’s inside is important to me.”
Farhat moved to Dearborn when he was 16, learning English for the first time and how to navigate this new world without sight. He rose to the top of his class and started volunteering with everything from local Rotary Clubs to the American Heart Association to the March for Dimes.
“My goal is to be not only involved, but because I suffer a lot, I don’t want to see other people suffer,” he says about the confidence behind his many leadership roles, public speaking events and media engagements. “The purpose behind the public appearances is to spread motivation and make sure the public knows that blind people in specific and challenged individuals are more than able to achieve whatever they want to achieve as long as they put effort into it.”
He set his sights even further in college now, knowing he wanted to get a jump start on his career as a public servant. He’s helped the university to update their handicap accessibility on campus, as well as resources for those who are impaired, like braille signs.
“I’m trying to make the campus more accessible and inclusive,” he said about the multi-year project. “To do such a big change, I’m so blessed.”
Farhat says his secret is choosing positivity each day.
“My battle is very long, but this positivity comes from the eagerness to fight and rise above my challenges,” he explains. “I have dreams in my life and a huge goal to achieve. I can’t achieve that until I work hard and fight for it.”
Farhat has two more semesters left at UM-Dearborn and plans to pursue his master’s degree, likely at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He hopes to get married, earn his Ph.D. and have a long, healthy career in public service. Most of all, he hopes always to be encouraging people not just to dream, but act.
“I meet a lot of people who have huge potential, they give out nice points but they don’t act or help,” he said. “In my case, I don’t just like to preach about it; I like to get it done and get it done the right way. It’s going to give a lot of people out there a model, a base to start with.
“They’ll say, ‘If he can do it, why can’t I?’”