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Iowa State student doesn't let car crash, COVID-19, friend's death … – WCF Courier

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Yusuf Shehata stands in front of a high-powered server with a laptop filled with DNA gene sequences. 
Yusuf Shehata, a 2018 Cedar Falls high school graduate, finished his degree at Iowa State University in December despite some challenges during his final semester.
AMES — Without pressure, there are no diamonds.
Yusuf Shehata, a 2018 Cedar Falls high school graduate, wants people to remember that philosophical quote whenever they’re faced with challenges.
He graduated from Iowa State University last month, but it didn’t come easily. It required persistence, grit and consistency.
Shehata followed his brothers Muhammad and Ahmad to ISU and started out pursuing computer engineering in his first semester, but finished with a 1.81 grade-point average. Shehata later switched to a bioinformatics and computational biology major.
He faced his biggest challenges during his final semester. For the first two weeks of classes in late August, he had COVID-19 and was suffering from a bacterial infection.
That put him behind in the midst of taking several rigorous STEM-heavy courses and led to making some sacrifices. He had to forego trips home to Cedar Falls while boosting study time and late nights in the library.
“I cut out everything not related to school,” he said.
Basically, all he was doing was eating, sleeping and studying. He decided not to travel to Iowa City to watch the Iowa–Iowa State football game in September.
While taking a break from the books — the same day as the big game — to go on a grocery run, his vehicle hydroplaned and ended up upside down into a ditch. And about two weeks later, he found out his close friend from Waterloo died.
“Events like that make you realize how death could be right there, and that there might not be a tomorrow,” Shehata said.
People were telling him to take a semester off. He was without a close buddy and a car. And despite lingering back pain caused by the accident, he now needed to bike everywhere.
But he continued to push through adversity, channel his late friend’s spirit and kept on schedule, graduating with his bachelor’s degree Dec. 17.
Shehata, too, has been serving as a research assistant with the California Academy of Sciences since the summer. He feels he’s making a difference collecting and analyzing DNA sequences on a terminal and helping address the impacts of climate change and pollutants on the world’s oceans and coral reefs.
As his research nears publication, Shehata is back home in Cedar Falls and looking at graduate programs closer to the ocean.
In pursuit of a career in marine biology and bioinformatics, he hopes the journey leads to more field work out on the coasts – possibly Florida, Oregon or California – and new skills like scuba-diving.
With more than 70% of the Earth being water, that’s where he wants to turn his attention. Shehata feels he could be one piece of the larger puzzle that “helps save the planet” – one of his driving motivations going forward in life.
“When you have a dream, you don’t let anything stop you,” he said. “Other people have faced tougher struggles than me and, against all odds, you can reach a better point in life if you keep on pushing. That’s what I want people younger than me to know.”
Waterloo Black Hawk Gavin O’Connell keeps the puck in the offensive zone as a pair of Dubuque defenders close in during first period action Wednesday at Young Arena. 
Waterloo’s Myles Hilman chases after a puck as Dubuque’s Lucas St. Louis defends from behind during first period action Wednesday at Young Arena. 
Waterloo Black Hawks’ Aaron Pionk fires a one-timer on net during first period action Wednesday at Young Arena against the Dubuque Fighting Saints. 
Waterloo Black Hawks’ Ben Robertson races into the offensive zone during first period action Wednesday against Dubuque at Young Arena. 
Waterloo Black Hawk forward Owen Baker puts pressure on Dubuque defender Caelum Dick Wednesday during first period action at Young Arena. 
Waterloo Black Hawk forward James Hong races ahead of a Dubuque Fighting Saint defender during first period action Wednesday at Young Arena. 
Waterloo Black Hawk Griffin Erdman falls to the ice as he tries to keep control of the puck Wednesday during first period action against the Dubuque Fighting Saints at Young Arena. 
The Waterloo Black Hawks’ Zach Bade celebrates his first period goal against the Dubuque Fighting Saints Wednesday at Young Arena. 
Waterloo Black Hawk Gennadi Chaly skates with control of the puck in the Dubuque zone during first period action Wednesday at Young Arena. 
Waterloo Black Hawk Gavin Lindberg looks for an open teammate from behind the Dubuque Fighting Saints net Wednesday during first period action at Young Arena. 
Waterloo Black Hawk Griffin Erdman tries to corral a loose puck in the Dubuque zone during first period action Wednesday at Young Arena. 
The Waterloo Black Hawks hosted the Dubuque Fighting Saints Wednesday at Young Arena in United States Hockey League action. 
Waterloo Black Hawk Gavin O’Connell keeps the puck in the offensive zone as a pair of Dubuque defenders close in during first period action Wednesday at Young Arena. 
Waterloo’s Myles Hilman chases after a puck as Dubuque’s Lucas St. Louis defends from behind during first period action Wednesday at Young Arena. 
Waterloo Black Hawks’ Aaron Pionk fires a one-timer on net during first period action Wednesday at Young Arena against the Dubuque Fighting Saints. 
Waterloo Black Hawks’ Ben Robertson races into the offensive zone during first period action Wednesday against Dubuque at Young Arena. 
Waterloo Black Hawk forward Owen Baker puts pressure on Dubuque defender Caelum Dick Wednesday during first period action at Young Arena. 
Waterloo Black Hawk forward James Hong races ahead of a Dubuque Fighting Saint defender during first period action Wednesday at Young Arena. 
Waterloo Black Hawk Griffin Erdman falls to the ice as he tries to keep control of the puck Wednesday during first period action against the Dubuque Fighting Saints at Young Arena. 
The Waterloo Black Hawks’ Zach Bade celebrates his first period goal against the Dubuque Fighting Saints Wednesday at Young Arena. 
Waterloo Black Hawk Gennadi Chaly skates with control of the puck in the Dubuque zone during first period action Wednesday at Young Arena. 
Waterloo Black Hawk Gavin Lindberg looks for an open teammate from behind the Dubuque Fighting Saints net Wednesday during first period action at Young Arena. 
Waterloo Black Hawk Griffin Erdman tries to corral a loose puck in the Dubuque zone during first period action Wednesday at Young Arena. 
Shehata

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Cedar Falls, Waverly City Government Reporter
I’ve covered city government for The Courier since August 2021. I’m a Chatham, NJ native who graduated from Gettysburg College in 2018 and previously worked for publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
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Yusuf Shehata, a 2018 Cedar Falls high school graduate, overcame several obstacles during his last semester at Iowa State University, but stil…
Yusuf Shehata stands in front of a high-powered server with a laptop filled with DNA gene sequences. 
Yusuf Shehata, a 2018 Cedar Falls high school graduate, finished his degree at Iowa State University in December despite some challenges during his final semester.
Shehata
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