HawkStrong: Governor Whitmer appoints alumnus Khodr Farhat to Michigan Council for Rehabilitation Services

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A headshot of Khodr Farhat.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently appointed HFC alumnus Khodr Farhat to the Michigan Council for Rehabilitation Services. President Kavalhuna also serves on this Council.

“Public service runs in my veins,” said Farhat, of Dearborn, who is married to Fatima Chamas with whom he has a daughter, 3 months old. “I’m so excited to see what the future holds.”

Brent Mikulski, president and CEO of Service to Enhance Potential in Dearborn, nominated Farhat for the MCRS. Farhat’s 3-year term runs through June 28, 2026. Farhat, who is visually impaired and a human rights advocate, was one of five people Whitmer appointed to the MCRS. The MCRS’ mission is to develop customized workforce solutions for businesses and individuals with disabilities. It reviews, analyzes, and advises Michigan’s rehabilitation programs and services, and advises the department director and the governor.

“Governor Whitmer appointed me to this council as a result of my years of advocacy and public service,” said Farhat. “This appointment will give me the opportunity to be one of several voices statewide to make a difference on issues and concerns pertaining to people with various disabilities. I am grateful to have the honor of serving the people of Michigan. I will work to make sure vocational rehabilitation services are delivered by the Bureau Services for Blind Persons and by Michigan Rehabilitation Services in a respectful and equitable manner.”

Growing interest in public policy and advocacy work

Farhat, who ran for the HFC Board of Trustees and for the Dearborn City Council, is the community engagement coordinator for Meridian Health Plan in Detroit and also volunteers as the publicity chair for the Eastern Michigan chapter of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. He has spoken at events for the disabled and has served as a substitute teacher in the Dearborn Public Schools and the Lincoln Park Public Schools.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Farhat – the youngest of three – immigrated to the United States at age 16. He didn’t speak English. Farhat enrolled in Lincoln Park High School because it had a program for the visually impaired. He spent his free time learning English, determined to learn the language and graduate on time from LPHS in 2012. Farhat is fluent in both English and Arabic, and can read both languages in braille.

Upon graduation from LPHS, Farhat enrolled at HFC (then Henry Ford Community College), where his older sister, Yassmine, graduated from in 2015. He thought about going into education, but changed his career path to public service thanks to HFC political science instructor Dr. Eric Rader.

“I saw myself being more effective doing public policy and advocacy work than being in a classroom,” said Farhat. “Dr. Rader has been an excellent mentor to me.”

“Khodr works hard to make this world a better place”

During his time at the College, Farhat worked with then-HFC President Dr. Stanley Jensen and Facilities to make the campus friendlier and accessible. This included having braille signage in various buildings and conducting sensitivity training.

“The College administration was very receptive to my thoughts and suggestions,” said Farhat.

"I'm excited about Governor Whitmer's recent announcement that she has appointed HFC alum Khodr Farhat to the MCRS,” said Rader. “I've known Khodr since he was my student almost 10 years ago. He is a dedicated and smart man. His life story is deeply inspiring. He works hard every day to make this world a better place. He will now have an opportunity to apply his many skills to serving his fellow Michigan citizens. I'm incredibly proud of Khodr's successes."

Farhat earned his associate degree in education from HFC in 2016. During his time at HFC, he earned 25 scholarships and awards. He made the Dean’s List several times and was a member of the HFC chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success. Farhat was also named as Channel 7’s Person of the Week in 2016.

“I had the immense pleasure of having Khodr as a student in two of my classes. His leadership abilities, integrity, kindness, and dedication to helping others were immediately apparent,” said English instructor Dr. Peter Kim. “I very much enjoyed his visits to my office, including when he first decided to run for public office. I know his talents will serve Michiganians well.”

Working toward equity, inclusion, and equality

Transferring to the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Farhat earned his bachelor’s degree in political science. He also completed graduate-level coursework in public administration and community-based education at UM-Dearborn. During his time at UM-Dearborn, Farhat was named a Difference Maker, a person who is improving the lives of others and making a positive impact in the community.

“HFC played an instrumental role in the person I am today. HFC set the stage for me to succeed at UM-Dearborn,” said Farhat. “I love the HFC community. It’s friendly and familiar and feels like home. If I could have earned my bachelor’s degree at HFC, I would have stayed.”

"Khodr is an incredible person and an absolute inspiration. I have known him for more than 10 years, and he has always been active in the community, advocating and supporting various causes. I am proud of all his accomplishments. Khodr is one of the most remarkable leaders I know," said HFC Director of Student Activities Cassandra Fluker.

Farhat’s will begin meeting with MCRS in August.

“We will be working with local, state agencies and organizations and the business community to spread education, awareness, and accommodations, so members of the different-abled community can live independently,” said Farhat. “I’m looking forward to serving alongside everybody. I’m looking forward to making a lasting positive impact on the differently-abled population for the sake of reaching inclusion, equity, and equality.”

VIDEO: HFC alumnus Khodr Farhat named a UM-Dearborn Difference Maker.

VIDEO: Khodr Farhat explains his life story and how he beat the odds.