Tbilal-hussainen years ago, in 2006, I started my first day as a student here at Harper. I was a first-generation college student, but I never thought too much of it until after I graduated from Harper.

My parents are Pakistani Muslim immigrants who did not attend college in the United States and could not offer any guidance on how to navigate college or how to choose a career path. I started Harper with few skills on how to be a good student. Harper and its faculty members were patient enough to wait for me to figure it out. I am forever grateful to everyone who helped me find my place – for Candace McCreary who opened my eyes to the field of sociology to the Career Development Center and Bill Hengtgen for helping me relax and see my path as well as all of those who guided me and supported my explorations.

When I finally was a better student, it was almost time to leave Harper. I went from Harper to Northeastern Illinois University and then on for my master’s at Loyola University Chicago. I am currently working on my Ph.D. in sociology at Loyola. Returning to Harper to teach as a member of the Diverse Faculty Fellows program after attending both a four-year school and graduate school reminds me how far I have come and how far I still have to travel.

The students I teach remind me of who I was when I was 18 years old, fresh out of high school and attending college as a first-generation college student.

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NOTE: Harper is currently accepting applications for the Fall 2017 Diverse Faculty Fellow program.