Sitting On Top of The World

MARTINA VASSILEVA
El Vaquero Staff Writer

He is the ASGCC president and he oversees a staff of 26 other students. He sits on the Board of Trustees, which he describes as one of his greater accomplishments. This is his last semester at GCC, and so far he has been accepted into UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge.

Anyone who knows 23-year-old Henan L. Joof, knows that he is not like everybody else. Whether it is the mixed French, Wollof (African language), and Bambara (African language) accent which he does not think he has, or the calm demeanor he posses Joof is a rather intriguing individual.

Accepted into UCLA straight out of high school but unable to attend because of financial reasons, Joof decided to go through community college first. As a result of his heavy involvement with student government he is now a double major in economics and political science.
Spring of 2001 was Joof’s first semester at GCC. It was also his first semester in the United States. As an international student from France, Joof came to Los Angeles to interview with several different community colleges.

GCC was his first and last stop. “I went on an orientation tour of GCC and decided that I felt comfortable here, so I stayed,” Joof said.
“I didn’t know anyone in my first semester at GCC. It was just school, study, sleep,” Joof said. It was toward the end of that first semester that members of the International Students Club asked him to play soccer after school. The people he played soccer with also became his first friends at GCC.

“Because I’m an international student, whatever friends I make here are my family,” Joof said.

His friends were the ones who later urged him to run for a student government position. That is where everything took a turn toward where he is now.

Joof said he always dismissed the idea of running for student government. Elections passed and since he had not run for anything, he was appointed to Senator of Administration. Joof is happy with the way things turned out.

“They needed a representative of the club to sit in on IOC meetings, and I was free between 12 and 1 so I thought ‘Why not do it?’ ” From there, Joof became Senator of Administration, vice president and then president.

When community colleges took big budget cuts two years ago, Joof was vice president of administration. “One of the jobs that the vice president does is lobbying,” Joof said. “We sent 20,000 letters to eight different assemblymen and assemblywomen.”

In an effort to bring the legislature’s attention to the budget cuts, Joof was also in charge of mailing 8,000 postcards and organizing workshops that thaught students about community college funding.

According to Joof, the most important thing he did with ASGCC is the organization of a protest that 300 students attended in downtown Los Angeles “We put the whole thing together. We had shirts for everybody to wear, we provided buses to and from the protest, and we made sure the protest was peaceful so that nobody would get arrested,” Joof said.
This is Joof’s last semester at GCC. As far as his future goals, he aims high. My dream job is working for the World Bank and helping third-world countries, Joof said.

“Throwing money at a problem won’t fix it. I want to help motivate people who are in debt, to pull out of it.”

“There’s a point where you feel like you’ve achieved the reason you became a part of something,” Joof said. “I am at that point now.”

As far as his greatest accomplishment at GCC, Joof cannot point to one single experience. “Making people believe the work they do is worth doing, not because I tell them to, but because it affects so many others,” Joof said.

“It is my greatest accomplishment here.”