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The Dream Starts with Me - Student Humanitarians of the Year Awardee: Yassna Ahmadi

Updated: Apr 5, 2019


Yassna Ahmadi - 2019 Student Humanitarian, Photo credit Contra Costa County.

By Shelly Prevost

As the country grows more contentious and more divided, with our government shutting down and unable to reach an agreement, our hopes for a more united future increasingly depend on the next generation of leaders. One of these leaders, Yassna Ahmadi, this year’s recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Humanitarian of the Year Award, stands out among them. Yassna is a senior at Pinole Valley High School, where she is currently serving as the class president.

One morning while Yassna was sitting in class, her name was called over the school intercom and she was told to report to the Principal’s office. As many of us might remember from our student days, that’s usually disconcerting. Yassna thought “Oh, what did I do wrong?” It turned out she had nothing to worry about. Principal Kibby Kleiman wanted to nominate her for the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Humanitarian Award. As part of Contra Costa County’s Annual Commemoration of Dr. King’s life and legacy, the Board of Supervisors honors a student that exemplifies the social justice and community commitment values championed by Dr. King. The Board chose Yassna Ahmadi as this year’s recipient of the award.


Like most American stories, unless you are a Native American, it starts with your ancestors immigrating to the United States. Yassna’s parents emigrated from Afghanistan in 1979, fleeing the Soviets invasion. Her dad was seventeen and her mom was twelve. They met and married in Fremont, and in 2000 they moved to Hercules. They are now both US citizens. Yassna’s dad is a professor at UC Berkeley and her mom works as a human resources coordinator. Yassna says “my parents taught me to treat all people with kindness, be respectful and always think about others”.