Harth Alawad is about to experience two milestones in the span of a week-and-a-half. On May 9 he will be sworn-in as a United States citizen. Nine days later he will walk across the stage in the SRC Arena and receive his college degree. “I am so happy. Where I am today is such a big difference. I have gone from nothing to big things.”
Five years ago, Alawad and his family left Iraq and came to the United States. As he adjusted to his new life in a new world, he also began to learn English. “It was really hard to learn a new language, but I worked at it.” In 2016 he enrolled at OCC. He started with English as Second Language and other basic classes, then worked his way up.
Alawad has become an outstanding student and will earn a degree in Humanities & Social Sciences. Outside class he has immersed himself in campus life, serving on the Diversity & Inclusion Council, the Unity Day Committee, and Student Conversation Circles. “OCC is a great college. It feels like home to me. They have so many programs that support students and great professors.”
What’s next for Alawad? He’s not sure but knows ultimately he would like to do something that helps people. He feels the need to give back to those who, at age 28, have given him a new start at life. “I’m so proud to be here and to be an American. This country saved our family. They have given us so much.”