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Seeking a Career Change, Valedictorian Hala Ashour Found So Much More in Bryant & Stratton’s Graphic Design Program

Picture of BSC alumni Hala Ashour

“I found my identity through Bryant & Stratton College’s graphic design program, my mentors, and my peers,” said Hala Ashour, 2021 Rochester Valedictorian and graduate of the Henrietta campus.

 

Having moved to the United States 20 years ago from Jordan, Hala had never stayed in one place long enough to complete a degree. Her husband’s medical residencies have moved their small family everywhere from Tennessee to California to Kansas over the past two decades.

 

“When we moved to the States from the Middle East, I had a computer science degree and found some work as a programmer. I wanted a change and was trying to finish a bachelor’s degree in design, but my children were my priority, and we were moving a lot. It was tough,” said Hala.

 

When her husband took a position at a local hospital in Rochester, N.Y., Hala’s family packed up for yet another move. She spent the first year making sure her children adjusted well to their new home, but at the start of the second year, Hala knew it was time to do something for herself.

 

She had always wanted to hone her technical skills in design and programming, but she wasn’t sure where to start. It was a search for local, flexible degree programs that landed her on Bryant & Stratton College’s website. Hala requested more information, and shortly thereafter, she received a call.

 

“I picked up the phone to someone from the College’s admissions office, and we couldn’t hear each other because my children were screaming in the car. He was understanding, warm and kind,” said Hala.  “He set up a morning call for us to ‘have a cup of coffee’ together and discuss my interests.”

 

Hala was invited to tour the campus with the graphic design program director, and she knew right away that she had found the right program at the right time. Not only was she impressed by the facilities available to students on campus, but the College accepted all her former credits from various degree programs across the U.S., so she did not have to repeat any courses.

 

Her deciding factor came when the campus director called her the next day and offered her a grant. “It showed me that they believed in my potential,” said Hala.

 

From the beginning, Hala excelled in the program. She lauded the College’s efforts to introduce students to immersive, yet accessible experiences – some of which she will remember forever. This included a program trip to Philadelphia to study its historical architecture. The College made arrangements to ensure that all students could afford to participate in the rewarding experience.

 

This dedication to student success was even more apparent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. “Within a day of schools shutting down, the College made sure that everyone in the program had computers and the technology we needed to stay connected,” said Hala. “Remote schooling was seamless, and our instructors really made themselves available to us 24/7.”

 

Due to her Middle Eastern roots, Hala felt passionate about incorporating her culture into her design work. Bryant & Stratton College made sure that she had the space to do so, giving her a sense of confidence and purpose in her designs throughout her time in the program.

 

Her talent and unwavering commitment led Hala to be named the 2021 Valedictorian, an honor of which she did not fully grasp at first. “In Jordan, merits aren’t recognized in that way. I didn’t really understand the magnitude of it until the campus director called me personally to explain it,” said Hala. “Once I understood, I was so honored. It symbolizes overcoming all of my challenges to succeed.”

 

With her time at the College having come to an end, Hala is exploring career opportunities close to home. “I’m passionate about helping my husband and his colleagues with medical illustration so that patients and everyday people can understand visually what they are being told about their health,” said Hala. “I hope to pursue that more officially to make a difference in healthcare education after graduation.”

 

To learn more about Bryant & Stratton College’s graphic design programs, please visit https://www.bryantstratton.edu/degrees/associate-degrees/aas-graphic-design.


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