Hesham Mohamed: NYACCE Student Of The Year, 2012
By Dr. Joan O’Gorman
We are extremely proud to announce that, for the fourth year in a row, a student from the VIVE School/Pathways to Success has been honored by NYACCE (the New York Association for Continuing & Community Education) as a “Student of the Year.” This year’s honoree is Hesham Mohamed, who joins past winners Christopher Pope, Edgar Alonso and Fermin Jimenez.
The story of a youngster getting involved with the wrong crowd is nothing new. So it was with Hesham Mohamed, who preferred his teenage pals to schooling. Born and raised in Egypt, Hesham showed little interest in education and was slotted into a non-academic program. Bored, unchallenged, and with so called “friends” taking up his time, he was on the path to nowhere.
But parents are the same the world over! Hesham’s mother could see that her son, her only child, was not being directed properly. She feared for his future. She made a drastic decision to leave Egypt, her homeland, and come to the land of opportunity, The United States of America. Hesham’s father was already in New York working for his family. So in 2010, mom and Hesham, then age 17, joined him.
For Hesham this was a frightening move. He had to adapt to so many things – language, weather, transportation - and of course he no longer had his “friends”. His English consisted of, “Hi, how are you?”, and he couldn’t count beyond 100. But in a few months he started to feel at home. His dad, a bus driver, inquired about a Yonkers Public School Literacy Zone at Enrico Fermi. Soon thereafter, Hesham was enrolled in ESOL classes. He will tell you how scared he was. But by taking Pathways to Success classes, seeing movies and listening to tapes, his ability to speak to his teachers and classmates improved quickly. As his language progressed, he started to work at McDonald’s and later at Nine West in customer service. These jobs afforded him opportunity to further enhance his language skills in order to speak in public rather than just the classroom.
Hesham moved quickly through the Basic Education, Pre-GED, and the GED Program. By March 2012, he took the GED Exam, and in June received his New York State High School Equivalency Diploma. He completed Security Guard Training and received his certification. He also obtained a resume. He considered each accomplishment “a career goal.” Jokingly, he would agree that his middle initial should be “P” for perseverance. Each challenge motivated him more. His online researching with our Literacy Zone Partner, the Yonkers Public Library, led him to engineering. Since he is a “hands-on math man,” he decided to be a petroleum engineer. And so Hesham is now enrolled at Westchester Community College studying engineering services. The next career goal will be to complete his studies at Penn State University, which offers a degree in Petroleum Engineering. Currently, he is working as a security guard, which allows him time for his college work.
Hesham is proving his mother was right to bring him to the United States. Both mom and dad have even enrolled themselves in Pathways to Success to improve their English Language Skills. Will he return to Egypt when he has earned his degree? Not likely; he feels he wants to “Give back to this country.”
With Hesham’s ability, personality, and P (perseverance) he surely will.
Students Find Their Pathways
By Dr. Joan O’Gorman
Neither Christopher Pope nor Chante Martin can boast about successes in their teenage years. However, they can now boast that they are high school graduates.
While attending Pathways to Success, the adult education program, Christopher earned a Yonkers Public High School Diploma by completing the External Diploma requirements, while Chante earned a New York State High School Equivalency Diploma by passing the GED Examination.
Furthermore, both of these students are now successfully employed because of their participation with Pathways to Success. Congratulations to two individuals who have completely turned their lives around, going from homelessness to role models.
What a way to go!