From a very early age, Jawid Habib understood the values of resiliency and perseverance.
His life motto draws from a famous Muhamad Ali quote, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” And when you look at his past, you can see how Jawid embodies hard work and success.
Born and raised in San Diego, he always knew he wanted to give back to his community through his work.
Jawid is the son of refugee parents who fled Soviet-occupied Afghanistan in 1981 and resettled in San Diego with a meager 50 cents to their name. As a child, he would listen to his parents discussing the lack of democracy and rule of law in Afghanistan. Many of his own family members suffered or died as a result of Afghanistan’s wars, some of whom simply expressed their views against despotic regimes. Each time the phone rang, Jawid explained, he feared losing another family member.
These early experiences would later shape his career, as he quickly realized the importance of a system that places a premium on democracy, and a system of laws that protect the uninhibited right to free speech.
Opportunity in Education
As a student, Jawid’s desire to succeed was apparent.
“I knew early on that it was important to commit myself to my studies,” recalled Jawid. “As a first generation American and son of refugee parents, I knew I was fighting an uphill battle to succeed academically and professionally.”
But those obstacles never got in his way. Through a combination of hard work and community support, Jawid was able to excel at every stage of his life.
Jawid was a member of the third graduating class of The Preuss School UC San Diego, a charter middle and high school for low income students who strive to become the first in their families to graduate from college. Here, he received vital resources, tools and access to a network of educators that helped him build a foundation for growth.
Without the MKC Preuss Scholarship and the support of the donors and mentors involved, my life trajectory would have been very different.”
This was also where he first learned about the MKC Preuss Scholarship at The San Diego Foundation, a scholarship created by Patricia & Christopher Weil to support Preuss School seniors achieve their higher education goals.
“Without the MKC Preuss Scholarship and the support of the donors and mentors involved, my life trajectory would have been very different,” explained Jawid.
At the time he was pursuing his degrees, Jawid’s parents were still in need of support. As a result, Jawid worked two jobs to help his family while in school.
Jawid commented, “The financial and personal support I was given through the MKC Preuss Scholarship while pursuing my degrees lifted a considerable burden off my shoulders and allowed me to remain focused on my studies.”
Accomplishing His Goals
Drawing from his early childhood experiences, Jawid developed a deep passion for law. He received an A+ in his first political science class at UC San Diego, and later attended the UCLA School of Law to attain his J.D.
He would go on to take a trip to his parents’ homeland in Afghanistan and work with Maria Bashir, the first and only female prosecutor in the country, where they worked to expand the implementation of the Elimination of Violation Against Women (EVAW) law, which was passed in 2009.
Today, Jawid works as a defense attorney in San Diego at the forefront of employment law with Littler Mendelson P.C — a global law firm at the forefront of issues shaping the nation’s labor and employment laws.
As Jawid described, “Static laws, like many of those unchanged for decades in Afghanistan, stall social reform and hinder innovation. That’s why employment law stood out to me. U.S. courts constantly interpret and re-interpret laws to keep up with an increasingly diverse and innovative society. As an employment attorney, I am fortunate to be a part of that narrative.”
At every stage of his life, Jawid has persevered to achieve his goals. His path to becoming a successful attorney in San Diego was full of obstacles and challenges, but he believes the support from the MKC Preuss Scholarship and the mentors around him are the main reasons he was able to succeed.
Learn how you can make a difference in the life of someone like Jawid.
About Danielle Valenciano
As Director of Community Scholarships, Danielle and her team make higher education dreams a reality for hundreds of San Diego students each year. She serves donors who seek to support the educational aspirations of students and families who apply for scholarships each year. Danielle works closely with applicants to match their needs with funding opportunities, and taps the talents of the many volunteers who support the scholarship program.