HawkStrong: Dual enrollment student finds her voice at HFC

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Safa Alamiri portrait with multi-colored lighting.

Playing the lead role of Alina in HFC’s recent production of Tenderly marked student Safa Alamiri’s first time performing.

Tenderly is the first play I’ve been in! I have always been shy but had a love for theatre and acting,” said Alamiri. “However, I never really stepped out of my comfort zone until recently. I plan to continue participating in upcoming theatre productions at HFC.”

Alamiri, a dual enrollment student at HFC and the Universal Learning Academy in Westland, gives credit to HFC Director of Theatre Dr. John Michael Sefel, who served as director of Tenderly.

“Safa really tries to understand perspectives and the psychology of a character, bringing a sense of depth and empathy that is impressive,” said Sefel.

HFC classes helped her ease into college life

The eldest of four children in a first-generation Iraqi immigrant family, Alamiri will graduate from ULA in June. She currently lives with her family in Dearborn Heights.

“Despite being born and raised here in Dearborn, I never lost my connection with my home country and frequently visited my extended family,” she said.

She plans to continue her education at HFC and transfer to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to study directing and film studies.

“I plan to start my educational journey this fall at HFC. I also plan to minor in another field to try and expand my knowledge beyond theatre and film studies,” she said. “Academically, HFC has helped me manage my classes and ease into college, so when I graduate from ULA, I will know what to expect in terms of picking out my classes, etc.”

Alamiri’s interest in taking dual enrollment courses at HFC started when she learned some of her friends planned to take courses. She decided it would advantageous to get a head start on college and took her first dual enrollment course, a Computer Information Systems course. She also took an acting class – her first – with Sefel.

Getting the lead role in “Tenderly”

“While picking classes for the new semester, I got curious about HFC’s theatre classes and decided to join the Acting I class. Dr. Sefel got in touch with me about auditions for a play and I became intrigued. Later that week, I gave it a shot and landed a role as Alina in Tenderly.”

Excited as she was to play the lead in Tenderly, Alamiri admitted she was also anxious.

“Having to memorize so many lines on top of the schoolwork I had to do for HFC and ULA could be intimidating and stressful, but I loved and enjoyed every part of it,” she said. “Many times I found myself growing more anxious as the opening day for the show came and the pressure really hit, but I was reassured by Dr. Sefel, who gave me amazing directing and guidance and helped me ease into everything.”

Dual enrollment students are valued members of HFC community

Sefel, who is in his first year at HFC, is impressed by the dual enrollment programs HFC has with area high schools.

“The dual enrollment programs are such an important part of the HFC family and one of the things that really made me excited to come work here,” said Sefel. “At many colleges, dual enrolled students are treated as somehow ‘lesser’ – like a cash grab instead of like valued members of our community. I love when dual enrollment students come to audition for our plays or attend our theatre club meetings – it's really a great chance to have them experience more of the positive sides of college life, to make connections, and to start to think of HFC as a natural home for themselves even before they graduate.”

Added Alamiri: “The many students I also met and became friends with during the audition process and the fun times we had really encouraged me to want to do more plays in the upcoming semester. I love how diverse the student community is and how easy it is to make friends through your classes or programs at the College. HFC is also super close to me – it’s about a 4-minute drive – so it’s comforting having it so near where I grew up.”

Theatre classes build skills beyond acting

Another benefit to being dual enrolled is the acting class has gotten Alamiri to become more self-assured. She was recently elected as student body president at ULA.

“I realized ULA students had a voice and it wasn't being heard, so I decided to run for president to try and combat that,” she said. “As a result, we opened up more clubs, extracurriculars, and after-school programs for students., including theatre club, chess club, and art club.”

Sefel is pleased with the impact the HFC experiences have had on Alamiri.

“I have seen Safa undergo such growth since I met her last semester!” he said. “When she came to auditions in September, she was quiet and timid. But after several months of rehearsals we worked on volume, ways to stand to project confidence, and, generally, ways to catch and keep people's attention. Now, not only has she starred in a college play, but she was voted the president of her class and recently gave a speech to legislators in Lansing! Theatre offers so many useful skills, and Safa is proving that over and over again!”