She Wanted to Attend a College Where She Could Shine
Batoul Hammadi always wanted to attend a large university, but for a number of reasons, particularly her international educational background, she decided to begin her college education at PCCC.
“I went to school in different countries, which made applying to universities complicated,” Batoul explained. “I thought it would be wise to start someplace smaller and shine there.”
Apparently, it was a good plan. Batoul achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA and graduates with highest honors. Her shining moment will come when she steps up to the podium to deliver one of the two valedictory speeches at the January 14 Winter Commencement ceremony.
“I’m a shy person, but I feel prepared to make this speech and will talk about my educational background,” she said.
Born in the U.S. Batoul lived here until age five when she attended kindergarten. She spent her elementary school years in Syria, attended middle school in the U.S., graduated from high school in Turkey in 2017, and returned again that summer to New Jersey where she enrolled in PCCC for the Fall 2017 semester.
“My family liked to move a lot,” said Batoul, laughing. She enjoyed the international educational experience. “It was very interesting,” she explained. “Each place has a different language, unique culture, and a different way of doing things.”
She is now fluent in English and Arabic and can also speak Turkish. “That was harder for me, because I didn’t learn Turkish until I was a teenager,” said Batoul. She kept her English skills sharp while living in Syria and Turkey by watching American television and films.
When it was time to apply to college, Batoul said the process of gaining admission to a large university seemed very complicated, especially because her high school education and graduation was in Turkey.
“PCCC was easier to deal with,” said the Clifton resident. “It was also much less expensive, so that was very important to consider, too.”
Batoul says she was shocked to discover how challenging the PCCC courses and professors were. “People expect that they will be easy, but I saw that I really had to work to get good grades.”
She singled out her General Chemistry class as one of her toughest classes. “I felt proud that I could get an A in such a hard class,” Batoul said. “More difficulty makes your achievement more meaningful.”
Though Batoul was invited to join the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, she shied away from most activities at PCCC.
“I was very academic-minded,” she explains. “I did not join any clubs or get involved in activities, because I wanted to focus only on my studies.”
Batoul especially values her experience with the STEM department where she had the opportunity to work as a tutor to other students. “Being a tutor really strengthened my own knowledge,” she says.
She is also very appreciative of the scholarships she received through STEM and through the B2B
(Bridges to Baccalaureate) program. “Those really helped,” she said.
Batoul completed her associate’s degree in August and has transferred to Rutgers-Newark where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biology. “I did well in the Fall semester,” she said. “I had mostly A’s and only one B+.
She plans to become a dermatologist, focusing on cosmetic care. “I’ve always wanted to go into a medical field,” says Batoul. “Growing up, I thought of becoming a veterinarian, but since then, I moved more toward becoming a doctor for people.”
Batoul hopes to attend medical school at Rutgers and is interested in both research and patient care.
A fan of New York dermatologist Dr. Shireene Idriss, whose videos she follows, Batoul is focused on all-natural skin care, emphasizing health rather than cosmetics.
“Maybe one day, I will create my own line of products,” she says. “That would really interest me.”
Article and photo by Linda Telesco