Detroit senior citizens and other underserved populations in the city have access to low-cost high-quality eye care, thanks to a nonprofit founded earlier this year. And Samer Alfahad — a Fall 2022 College of Business graduate — is one of the people involved in starting the new organization.
Alfahad, a marketing major and first-generation college student, said his COB lessons in entrepreneurship and writing business plans — Alfahad gives a special shout out to Lecturer Marcus Harris’ “Entrepreneurial Thinking & Behavior” course — prepared him to assist in launching Eye Care for Detroit alongside his mentor, American Advantage Home Care President and CEO Cleamon Moorer, who hired Alfahad as a communications intern at their Dearborn-based main office in 2021. Eye Care for Detroit’s mission is to provide access to eye care for Detroit’s homebound community and underserved populations.
Still working with Dr. Moorer, Alfahad now serves as the Eye Care for Detroit communications director and American Advantage Homecare’s marketing and business development coordinator.
“This all happened for me because of an internship. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get an internship, especially one with a strong leader who believes in you, guides you and wants to help you grow,” he said. “Not only do I feel more confident as a professional, I also have satisfaction from helping people. I’m from Detroit. If you’ve lived it, you should help if you even find yourself in a position where that’s possible.”
Alfahad said he’s experienced seeing people struggle and later succeed because others gave support. He points to moving to Detroit to live with his grandparents at age 5 when his family emigrated from Yemen.
“My parents came here and struggled to risk it all to get this opportunity for their family. They didn’t speak the language. They left what they knew for the chance of something better. And they created a good life for us here,” he said. “That is something that I always have in the back of my mind — I am where I am today because of what they did. They supported me and gave me what I have today. No matter what I do, that drives me. I want to give back to my family and my community.”
Alfahad, who attended UM-Dearborn on a scholarship, said he’s now able to give back because of the educational opportunities he’s had. The presentations he’s given in class and business plans he developed for projects gave him confidence to help develop and co-present the Eye Care for Detroit nonprofit idea to TechTown Detroit’s Start Studio (the team won the People’s Choice Award at the culminating Demo Day). His marketing classes gave him insight on website creation and strategic planning. And his sales courses gave him tools he needed to fundraise $25,000 for a recent campaign.
“I use what I’ve learned in college. I’ve heard people talk about school and ask: am I really going to use this? Fortunately, things are different at UM-Dearborn. I know that firsthand. The lessons in our classes are valuable — it’s the real deal.” He said the support systems are solid too — from the academic advisers to the professors to the students in the classes.
Alfahad said he is grateful to everyone who assisted him on his academic journey, and especially to friend and fellow UM-Dearborn Class of 2022 COB graduate Mohamed Korin. Alfahad said they encouraged each other to get out of their comfort zones — for example, they both went on the COB Study Abroad summer experience to Italy — and to keep focused on studies amid normal life distractions. “Everyone needs support. Having a close buddy helped me a lot. We kept each other accountable and had a partnership where we pushed each other.”
As he prepares for graduation on Dec. 17, Alfahad is proud of what his friends and family have accomplished, what Eye Care for Detroit has accomplished, and what he’s accomplished. Now — with experience, a degree and the drive to make a difference — Alfahad is looking forward to seeing what’s next.