Meet Southwestern Graduate Manny Taban-Taeoali

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Emmanuel Taban-Taeoali (Manny)

 2017 Associate of Arts/Oregon Transfer Degree

2017 Associate of Science


Manny loves Oregon rain. That’s perhaps unusual for someone who was born in south Sudan and has lived the majority of his life in the semi-arid climate of Salt Lake City. “I like to sit by an open window and listen to the rain when I’m studying. Oregon is so green and I love it.”

It’s been a convoluted path for Manny Taban-Taeoali to get to the green, rain-soaked coast of Oregon. As a refugee from Sudan at the age of two, he relocated with his Mom and two sisters to California, finally settling in Utah where he had an uncle living already. After high school Manny served a two-year mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Georgia, USA. He loved Georgia for the fabulous BBQ and the welcoming and kind people. Arabic is the first language spoken in his home, which he laughingly attributes to the fact that he struggled in writing classes. Being proactive, he took advantage of Southwestern’s Tutoring Center and got the help he needed, eventually resulting in A’s in Writing 122 and 123. “I made the Dean’s list for the first time ever,” he said.

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Manny learned about Southwestern through a childhood friend, Riley Grandinetti, who came to Coos Bay to play basketball at Southwestern in 2011, and is now Assistant Coach. Manny was originally enrolled in Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, but he admits it was mostly just to play sports. When the opportunity came his way to play basketball for Southwestern, and get serious about academics, he knew it would be a good move. But basketball was not the only thing he got involved in!

Manny served as a Student Ambassador giving campus tours and advising potential students, he worked as a Community Assistant in Housing responsible for creating programs for housing students that focus on social, educational, and health and wellness, and his final year was elected as Associated Student Government (ASG) President.

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Serving as Southwestern’s ASG President was great experience for Manny. He attended board meetings of the school board and got an insider’s view of how a college is run. During his year as president he was instrumental in coordinating various student activities including dances, carnivals, and brining diverse speakers to campus.

Manny’s long-term goals start with transferring to the University of Utah and achieving a degree in political science and ultimately a law degree. The excitement and intensity of the law profession appeals to him.

Manny feels confident to take on this next challenge. “Southwestern made me a better student. I feel totally prepared to go to a big university now.”