—Crafton helped him grow!
I moved to the United States from Syria when I was fifteen years old. I started my educational journey as a Sophomore at Redlands High School. I did very well considering my English skills and the whole transition to a totally different country. I graduated in 2011 with a relatively good GPA and strong language skills. However, even by the time I graduated, I had little understanding of the university and college systems in California. I knew that students typically transfer to 4-year universities immediately after high school while others attend community college. But the application process and requirements of the numerous universities were all too confusing for me as they were really different from the educational system in Syria.
After it was too late to apply to a 4-year university, the counselor told me that my best option was to attend Crafton Hills College and transfer from there. This turned out to be one of the best things to ever happen to me because Crafton helped me grow, learn, and prepare myself for the tougher university programs. In my first year at Crafton, I was planning to study bioengineering but switched to political science after taking an advanced biology course that made me realize I do not have passion for this field. I chose political science because I have had strong interest in American and world politics since I was a child. The counselors and transfer advisors at Crafton helped me understand the major’s requirements and transfer process for all public universities in California. At the same time, my professors told me about Crafton’s resources to help me grow professionally and academically, including the Honor’s Program, the Honors Society, and research conferences. With the support of the Honor’s Program advisors and my professors, I presented my research at the HTCC Student Research Conference in Irvine and Crafton Hills 1st Annual Research Conference. Additionally, my English professors, Ms. Cynthia Hamlett and Mr. Steven Estus, helped strengthen my writing skills through difficult assignments and extensive feedback.
In Spring 2014, I was admitted to all UC campuses, including UC Berkeley, my dream school. My experiences at Crafton had a great impact on my performance after transferring to UC Berkeley and beyond. During my years at Berkeley, I got high grades in all my writing assignments. I was accepted in several internships that required strong research and writing skills, including Research Apprentice through URAP, Immigration Legal Intern at Social Justice Collaborative, and Lab Intern in the Human Rights Investigations Lab at UC Berkeley School of Law Human Rights Center. I graduated from UC Berkeley with Distinction and was immediately hired at a Los Angeles immigration law firm as a Paralegal/Legal Content Specialist due to my writing skills. After working at the firm for two years, I was admitted to Loyola Law School, which offered me a high scholarship that covers around 90% of the tuition. As these experiences demonstrate, without Crafton’s help in building my research, writing, and presentation skills, it would have been more difficult for me to be where I am now.
Due to my experience as a Syrian immigrant who found many difficulties in understanding the educational systems and professional careers in the U.S, I recently cofounded Syrian Americans for Education and Networking Advancement with the help of Syrian American professionals and students in Southern California.
My advice to all students at Crafton Hills is to know that there will always be obstacles of different magnitudes until you achieve your goals. Do not give up! You can always find solutions by asking