Aysheh Abdalhuk

Aysheh AbdalhukAysheh’s story is one of triumph. The underprivileged Palestinian girl arrived in the United States more than 30 years ago at the age of 16 for a pre-arranged marriage. The practice was customary in her country. The marriage was abusive and the young woman soon found herself divorced and alone. Aysheh quickly had to learn to stand on her own two feet. She had herself English and tried several times to go back to school. She found college difficult and dropped out several times. She wasn’t aware at the time but she had a learning disability.

Aysheh remarried and had children. While in elementary school, her youngest son was diagnosed with a learning disability. “I gave up on pursuing any studies and stayed home to help him,” she said. “We are from a culture where the husband provides financially and we were very comfortable but his education was solely my responsibility.”

When he got older, she decided to go back to college and this time she was determined. She completed her Associate of Arts with a concentration in business but admits it took years.  Motivated by the challenges her son faced, Aysheh decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Special Education. “Just remembering how he suffered. We all suffered. I understand how the children feel but also the parents.”

Finally, she had found her calling.  Luckily for her, that’s not how the story ends. While doing a course in Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Aysheh turned in a paper to Professor Kelly Walker that would change her life. “I used to write my papers and give it to my older son who was a freshman in college to proofread. Then I would pay a second person to proofread it again before submitting it because I knew my writing was very poor,” she explained.  By error, she turned in a draft to Professor Walker that had not been proofed by anyone. After reading the paper Professor Walker realized that Aysheh had dyslexia and encouraged her to get tested. She was reluctant at first, as she wasn’t sure she would get help at her age.

The tests confirmed her dyslexia and through assistance from Professor Walker, Aysheh, and her son were enrolled in a special reading program. Their reading and writing skills improved immensely. It took Aysheh eight years to complete her bachelor’s degree but it’s a proud moment for her and her family. She currently works as a paraprofessional for children with special needs. Her advice “No matter what, don’t give up.” 

If teaching is your passion, explore your options through our Education programs.

Patricia Davis and Kenneth McCray– Mother and Son Graduate Together

Patricia Davis and her son Kenneth McCray have had to overcome adversity their whole lives. In 1999, at the age of six, Kenneth’s father died from an undetected aneurysm.  Being a single parent was hard enough when things took a turn for the worse in 2005. Patricia was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma that required aggressive chemotherapy.  After receiving her third round of the treatment, Patricia fell into a coma for four days.  When she regained consciousness she had to re-learn basic life skills such as the ability to walk and to speak.   As the family always pulls together, young Kenneth barely a teenager, focused on taking care of his mother. He put everything else in his life on hold. Together, this mother and son team were able to bring Patricia back to health.  And, even though she was in chronic pain, Patricia was able to begin work in a local office, and it appeared the worst was behind them. 

Then, in 2012, Patricia’s office closed and a year later Patricia and Kenneth were homeless. They struggled to find a permanent place to live for two years but even this experience didn’t deter this mother and son team from achieving their goals.  In 2015, Patricia transferred to Broward College to attend school with Kenneth who had started his associate degree there. 

For Patricia, now 51, earning her Associate of Science in Criminal Justice is an important “bucket list” item for her and represents the hard work it has taken to get to this point in her life.  And for 25-year-old Kenneth, graduating with his mom is very special to him and makes his graduation with an AA in Computer Science all the more rewarding.  Patricia and Kenneth are excited about Kenneth’s move to Kissimmee where he will continue his bachelor’s degree studies and look forward to what the future holds for them both!

Learn more about a degree in Criminal Justice or Computer Science programs.

Whatever your academic goals, Broward College has dedicated staff and faculty who can help you. Contact us here.

Christina Zamor

Christine Zamor is graduating with her Associate of Arts.  But, while most of us think of graduation as the culmination of a student’s education, this 30-year-old looks at it as only the first step!

Originally from New York, but now residing in Fort Lauderdale, Christina works in a group home with developmentally disabled adults and loves her job.  She wanted to complete her AA degree not only to achieve a personal goal, but also to provide the best possible care for her patients. Unfortunately, there were two obstacles in her way. First of all, Christina didn’t think she could afford to go back to school. Second, Christina was afraid that even if she could afford it, she wouldn’t be successful since she had attended school before and Anatomy and Physiology class had been so difficult. She decided not to give up and resolved pursue her dream.

After doing some research, Christina found Broward College, and, at that point, everything changed.  She was awarded the American Dream Scholarship and was able to go back to school.  In addition, Christina went from receiving D’s to A’s in the classes that had been so difficult for her in the past.  She says that the dedication and skill of her professors as what made the difference, adding “… my instructors were amazing. I still go back and visit with them.”

Now, empowered by her success, and driven by her passion to help others, Christina has decided to take the next step and pursue her nursing degree. Christina knows this will not only help her care for a wider spectrum of people with diverse needs, but also move her career forward as well. 

Find out more about how to get your Associate of Arts degree.