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Hasan Alhamwi is thrilled to be a PCC student ambassador

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Following the civil war that broke out in Syria, Hasan Alhamwi found himself in no man’s land. He was studying civil engineering in the northern Syrian town of Aleppo in 2012 when he abruptly left the country as rebel fighting and terrorist attacks encroached on his government-controlled city.

Hasan Alhamwi arrived at PCC in winter 2014 and since enrolling in the Civil & Mechanical Engineering Program at the Sylvania Campus, he’s cultivated a 4.0 grade-point average and has been involved with numerous student clubs and organizations.

Hasan Alhamwi arrived at PCC in winter 2014 and since enrolling in the Civil & Mechanical Engineering Program at the Sylvania Campus, he’s cultivated a 4.0 grade-point average and has been involved with numerous student clubs and organizations.

“Even my university in Syria was shelled many times,” Alhamwi said. “It was not a secure place at all. There was no chance to go back there after I left. It was a strange feeling. I felt suddenly my country had been stolen.”

He traveled to nearby Saudi Arabia to live with his father and plot a new course for his academics. But he learned he couldn’t transfer the credits he earned in Syria to any school abroad. Like himself, the credits were lost in the turmoil of the Middle East.

Alhamwi’s dream was to study abroad in an English-speaking country like the United States. However, because he was a visitor in Saudi Arabia he couldn’t apply for a U.S. student visa at the American embassy. After difficulties in securing a Saudi residency, he moved to the United Arab Emirates, got his resident status and applied for a U.S. visa from there. When he was awarded the visa, it had ended a process that took more than a year.

“I felt so great,” Alhamwi said. “This was my opportunity even though it’s a very sad situation that is happening at home in Syria, but somehow it made me pursue my childhood dream and eventually get to study abroad to get a degree in one of the English-speaking countries where I feel the education system is very advanced. I started looking everywhere, but it was really by chance I found PCC and chose the U.S. There are several reasons for choosing PCC, but the basic things are that it is is accessible, affordable, and is in a very peaceful, beautiful city.”

Alhamwi arrived at PCC in winter 2014 and since enrolling in the Civil & Environmental Engineering Program at the Sylvania Campus, he’s cultivated a 4.0 grade-point average and has been involved with numerous student clubs and organizations. Most impressive is that he learned English in one term by using services where volunteers assist non-native speakers with their English. He would eventually place at college-level English after taking PCC’s placement test.

“I spent many hours speaking with random volunteers practicing conversation,” Alhamwi said. “It was really fast. I was able to skip three levels of English classes in just one term. I love English, which is why I was able to learn it quickly.”

This love of learning and volunteer work (he helps PCC’s Office of International Education assisting new international students with college life) has led to Alhamwi being selected as one of 10 students in the inaugural Student Ambassador Program. The program is an honorary group of student volunteers that promote college activities and represent PCC at special events on campus and in the community. Those include PCC’s Day at the Capitol, Portland City Club, local rotary events, fundraisers, college commencement, PCC Foundation scholarship functions, college president events, and many more. Plus, it gives students like Alhamwi experience, skills and networking opportunities to assist in their professional pursuits.

A love of learning and volunteer work has led to Alhamwi being selected as one of 10 students in the inaugural Student Ambassador Program.

A love of learning and volunteer work has led to Alhamwi being selected as one of 10 students in the inaugural Student Ambassador Program.

“Employers, colleges and universities are looking for more than just good grades; they want community involvement and service,” said Rob Wagner, Associate Vice President for Advancement. “Through this program, student ambassadors get to develop a wide range of transferrable skills that will benefit them while at PCC and beyond.

“Hasan exemplifies the qualities we were looking for, as do all of the students who were selected last fall,” he added. “His incredible journey to the U.S. and to PCC is inspiring. And to be able to relocate, acclimate and thrive here in Oregon in such a short amount of time is a testament to his character. Hasan is exactly the type of student leader that can benefit from this program.”

And Alhamwi is making new friends as he attends official PCC events representing students and greeting visitors. His favorite moment was at the opening for the college’s new Southeast Campus in October where he got to meet leaders from all over the state and city.

“I got to talk with a U.S. senator,” Alhamwi said with a smile. “It was a really a new experience for me and was a nice time.”

Alhamwi is having too much of a nice time studying at PCC to think of a return to Syria. Right now, he’s focused on earning his associate’s degree and transferring to Portland State University to get his bachelor’s degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering. After that, he wants to work in the U.S. for a time to gain experience in the engineering field. For now, Syria is a long way off.

“Not in the near future, but maybe after the end of the crisis, I’ll go back and participate in reconstructing my country,” Alhamwi said. “It is an open door for me, but I’m happy here. I feel as I study here I’m building my future with a really strong base.”

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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Comments

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x by Melissa Pyle 2 years ago

Congratulations Hasan! As a student ambassador myself I had the opportunity of being partnered up with Hasan at the grand opening of the SE Campus and it was such a great experience for the both of us, he really is a remarkable individual. In addition, as a student I was impressed by Hasan’s ability to learn another language at such an accelerated pace he really is an inspiration. I am very thankful to have Hasan in our cohort but especially thankful for the time we had to get to know each other and exchange our experiences at PCC. Good luck Hasan and keep up the great work.

x by Jennifer Poinar 2 years ago

Congratulations Hasan! Glad to see you are continuing to do great work with our students and community.

x by Marie Mahon 2 years ago

Congratulations Hasas, you deserve this recognition. All staff in the Office of International Education are proud of you. Keep up the good work, you are a leader and will successful in whatever you do.
Marie

x by Hakima Al Mezewghi 2 years ago

Congratulations Hasan! Such an honor to be selected as a perfect ambassador..this is the result of hard work, keep it up. As a Student Ambassador myself and a Orientation Leader at the Office of International Education, I am so glad to work with you and so proud of you friend! You are a good role model for International Students!
Hakima

x by Meg McAleese 2 years ago

Congratulations Hassan!
We were both in the honors speech and debate class last term. I will never forget the lovely speech you gave about your home country. You are the perfect person for this job. Hope to see you around campus sometime.
Meg

x by Alycia Patterson 2 years ago

Congratulations and what a great job, Hasan!

x by Khalid Alshaikh 2 years ago

Congratulations Hassan . You are the best who can represent our lovely college due to your hard work . Hope your country will experience peace soon so you can go back and visit it your hometown again. We are proud of you.

‘llah 7ayo

x by Hasan Alhamwi 2 years ago

Thank you very much for all my friends who commented here and congratulated me. You are all awesome people, Melissa, Jennifer, Marie, Hakima, Meg, Alycia, and my dear friend Khalid. I am very glad that I have made such great friends, here at PCC, who helped and inspired me. I love you all, and I am looking forward to spend more awesome time with you.
Thank you for your support,
Hasan

x by Nisreen Mouammar 2 years ago

Congratulations Hasan! I think that all your friends are proud of this remarkable accomplishment that you have made. Your story will inspire others to achieve their goals whatever hardships they have. Wish you more and more success, Hasan!
Nisreen

x by Danielle Talla 2 years ago

Congratulations Hasan! I’m so happy for you. :-)

x by yasmin alhamwi 2 years ago

congratulations Hasan! It is honor for me to be your sister
You deserve this recognition :-)
Keep it up
Wish more and more success
We are so proud of you

x by Rashad elabdali 2 years ago

Congratulations Hasan I’m so so so so happy for you i am proud of you

x by Hasan Alhamwi 2 years ago

Thank you Nisreen, Danielle, Yasmin, and Rashad. I appreciate all your feelings. I am so happy that I have awesome friends like you :)

x by Hasan Alhamwi 2 years ago

Thank you James Hill. This is such a great interview :)

x by Hasan Alhamwi 2 years ago

Thank you James Hill. This is such a great interview :)

x by Eric Tharp 2 years ago

This is a wonderful story. I plan on studying International Business/Relations. I love hearing insiring stories of people overcoming obstacles. Whenever I feel discouraged with my busy schedule, I will think about your achievements. Anyting is possible.

x by Linda Browning 2 years ago

What an amazing story! Hasan, you are a testament to all who struggle that success is possible, even in seemingly impossible life situations.

We are fortunate to have you as one of our student ambassadors. Thank you for choosing PCC and being part of our community.

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