Achievement distinguishes graduate’s journey from Pakistan to USA
By Ilene Greenfield
High achiever would be an understatement in describing Ayesha Khawar. Since relocating from Pakistan to Florida six years ago when she was 18 years of age, Khawar learned English, earned a high school equivalency diploma, and began her higher education journey at Palm Beach State College. At the spring commencement ceremony, Khawar graduated with an Associate in Arts degree and had a 4.0 grade point average.
But that is not all. Palm Beach State Online has afforded Khawar the opportunity to proceed with her college education at her own pace while balancing the demands of helping to care for three younger siblings.
Spreading Her Wings Through Dialogue and Participation
“I was shy and hardly sociable in my home country,” said Khawar. “My education here has helped me to overcome that. Now I speak up and can help my younger sisters and brothers with their schoolwork, too.”
Laura Babooram, academic and student services manager for PBSC’s Bachelor of Applied Science programs, was formerly a General Education Diploma teacher at the Adult Education Center in West Palm Beach and recalled getting to know Khawar when she was enrolled in the GED program.
“She was a very promising student,” Babooram said. “She had an interest in wanting to learn, followed through, asked questions, and was one of several students we encouraged to apply for a college scholarship through the Heroes Foundation of America. This was an opportunity to earn an associate degree and enter a career pathway.”
Babooram serves as a board member of the Heroes Foundation of America and a liaison for PBSC students. The students who applied for scholarships authored essays that they submitted as part of the scholarship application. Babooram helps students like Khawar navigate their way and address any challenges.
Khawar received the scholarship, which was applied toward tuition at PBSC. In addition to maintaining an excellent academic record while learning online, Khawar also participates in the Ethical Hackers Club, which relates to her career pathway in information management.
Receiving the Associate in Arts degree at PBSC’s Spring 2023 Commencement seems to be only the next achievement on Khawar’s journey.
A Caring PBSC Makes All the Difference
Citing instructors and staff who helped to answer her questions and to address her concerns as they arose, Khawar also recalled their kindness.
“Part of her success was that she asked questions,” said PBSC adjunct professor and librarian Janet Laughton who taught history at the time. “I am a big believer in giving each student feedback and relating the subject matter to the student’s interests. With her interest in computers and technology, she chose to research and write about the patent for the first computer.”
Khawar’s values and family inspire her to continue. She remembers one of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad which accounts of his daily practice: “Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim.”
“My dad motivated me, and I was the first in my family to get a GED diploma,” Khawar said. “I was new here, and there were many colleges to choose from. PBSC not only offered flexibility—there are also kind and caring teachers and staff who help me when I get stuck.”
Khawar will be celebrating another milestone as she becomes the first member of her family to earn an associate degree. The next step for Khawar is PBSC’s Bachelor of Applied Science degree program. She already is enrolled in the program and plans to concentrate in project management.