Razija Hasanović, of Mount Olive, arrived in this country as a baby when her family fled war-torn Bosnia in the 1990s. Her parents had lost their home, their livelihood and knew not a word of English. What they did know, however, is that they wanted a better life for their family.
Central to creating that life was County College of Morris (CCM). Her father learned English studying at CCM and both her brothers, who now hold master’s degrees and work in finance, started at CCM earning their associate degrees.
Hasanović not only has built on that record of success as an NJ STARS student at CCM, next fall she will be working on her bachelor’s degree at Drew University on a full scholarship. NJ STARS covers the cost of tuition at New Jersey’s community colleges for students who graduate in the top 15 percent of their high school class. The Drew scholarship she will be receiving is part of a partnership the university and CCM established in 2014 to provide students a seamless pathway for earning their bachelor’s degrees. As part of that partnership, Drew also agreed to award a full-tuition scholarship each year to a student who enrolls through the program.
Along with carrying a full course load at CCM and maintaining at 3.99 GPA, Hasanović has served as a member of the college’s Phi Theta Kappa honor society and Biology and Chemistry Club, while also working as an assistant for an orthodontist. She will be graduating from CCM this month with an associate degree in biology.
Being able to earn her associate and bachelor’s degrees debt free, she notes, will provide her with a pathway to fulfill her dream of earning her doctorate degree in physical therapy.
“I hope to become that Muslim doctor who helps to heal people and dispel stereotypes,” she says. “My coworkers told me I changed their views about Muslims and that really stuck with me.”
But earning her doctorate is hardly the limit for Hasanović. A young woman of many passions, who also enjoys learning languages, creative writing and reading, she has a few other aspirations.
“I would like to write a book based on my family’s experiences and I would like to teach.”
She adds that coming to CCM and making the decision to attend Drew share some factors in common. Both are small schools where students can really get to know their professors. Attending CCM, she adds, also was a wise financial decision.
“My parents have worked two jobs each to provide for our family. It taught me to value education and money,” she says. “I tell everyone, ‘Start here.’ You really can’t go wrong.”
Photo Credit: John Hester