Tartela Tabassum: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... I am a fearless learner

Stasia Lopez's picture

My name is Tartela Tabassum and I am an international student from Bangladesh. After high school, I had to sacrifice my education and get married so that I could remove some financial burden from my family. After marriage, I moved to the USA and started over. After a year, I was able to begin my college education, but I had to battle stereotypes, for many people thought that a community college is not a good school to get into and it is not possible to be a success by going to the community college. There was a lot of stigma surrounding my decision to attend Community College as an international student. However, this was the only option I had to begin my education. Nevertheless, I broke all the stereotypes and graduated from CCAC-Allegheny with the major of Computer Information Systems in May 2020.

Tartela Tabassum: #CommunityCollegeBecause...I am a fearless learner

How did you choose your major? What motivated you to choose that field/profession? 
After coming to the U.S, I noticed that students got lots of opportunities through the use of digital tools and technology. The students, however, are often not motivated, and they lose track of their goals. With this in mind, I desire to create digital tools such as software-programmed robot and “Goals watch,” which I believe will help students become more goal-oriented. With this motivation, I chose my major in the Computer field so that I could use digital technology and productivity software-mediated collaboration tools. The goal is to use technology to control it, rather than being distracted by it; nowadays technology is controlling us.

What did you enjoy about attending CCAC? Any memorable moments to share? 
Attending CCAC was the best decision of my life–the staff, the professors, and the tutors from learning commons were so helpful. I was an engaged student in my college, which helped me to do lots of service work and volunteering in CCAC. This is how I became a mentor, and I enjoyed it when students came to me and asked me to guide them. I also got lots of opportunities for applying to scholarships, and did a scholarship workshop to help students. I remember I got even nice feedback from the college President, Dr. Evon Walters, about my scholarship essay. Also being part of the Honors program allowed me to be an active student and helped international students, like me, through services.

Tartela Tabassum: #CommunityCollegeBecause...I am a fearless learner

How involved were you at CCAC? Did you study abroad? Did you have internships or Co-Ops? Clinicals and/or practicums? Were you a part of any clubs, sports, or extracurriculars?
During my journey at CCAC, I was an active member of PTK (PHI THETA KAPPA), then I was elected as an Officer of Communication 2018-2019 at PTK (Alpha Mu Theta Chapter). After that, I become a Student Ambassador. I was also the President of Science Club, through which I got the 2018/2019 MVP award, and an Honors Ambassador. Later, I became the Student Government Vice President. In 2018, I did a summer camp internship at Carnegie Science Center as a Teaching Assistant. I attended at 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair as an interpreter and computer operator. I also worked last summer 2019 as an intern (data entry service) secretary at Steppingstone Psychiatric Care. I have worked at many volunteer programs through Phi Theta Kappa, CCAC, and my community, through which I received experience. So far, my accomplishments are getting my name on the Dean’s List, getting CCAC Educational award scholarship, including PTK Pearson scholarship, earning A's, being The Regional Officer (PA State President 2019-2020), Student and Honors Ambassador, Student Government Vice President, Science Club President, and a mentor.
Tartela Tabassum: #CommunityCollegeBecause...I am a fearless learner

Did any of these experiences lead you into realizing your passions for work and career? 
These experiences shaped me as a leader, and helped me improve my people skills. It showed me that I have a love and talent for working with people, and passion for my field of studies. It showed me that serving people and tending to their needs with compassion are some of the things I do best. The skills and experience that I got from my extracurricular activities also helped me achieved a prestigious scholarship at CCAC–The Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Program (DDETFP-2019 Award). My current volunteering involvement has taught me that I can think big, work hard, achieve my goals, and become positive in a challenging situation. It has taught me how to manage responsibility while welcoming diversity as a leader. This volunteering opportunity is fuel to my leadership skills and for my career.

Tartela Tabassum: #CommunityCollegeBecause...I am a fearless learner

What skills did you gain that you could take into a workplace? 
Internships and volunteering helped me to get people skills, and also technology skills, which I believe I could utilize later in the workplace.

What are you hoping to do next? What would you like to do professionally? 
I intend to be a Software Engineer in order to use digital technology and productivity software-mediated collaboration tools to improve the computer software field for the future. I like to employ my technology skills to identify problems, explore, prioritize solutions, and revise priorities as a means for purposeful action. In the future, I hope to provide significant societal benefits to the technology field, and enhance the world as a whole with my profession.

How do you manage stress (most especially during these uncertain times)? 
I manage my stress by reading motivational books and cooking.

What do you want prospective college students to know—what advice do you have for them? 
Everyone's battle is different. You don’t know everyone’s story of how they got where they are now, so being able to show that we are all different but striving after one thing as a student is important. I hope you all continue to push through the barriers, strive after your dreams, and never give up.

Who inspires you and why? Do you have any mentors or people of influence in your life? 
Observing my parents throughout my life has taught me the importance of education. Because they had to start working, my parents were only able to finish high school and had to drop out of college. I saw how they struggled because of their limited income. I, too, had to end my education after high school, because my parents couldn't afford my tuition in addition to my siblings. They had to arrange my marriage so I could go to the U.S with my husband and start a new life. My parents sold half of their land to send me to the U.S. At the beginning of my studies here, my husband couldn't support me financially. I had to wait two and a half years to start college. Once in the U.S, I started my journey at Community College. Being the first-generation student in the STEM field is not an easy task, but my motivation is my parent’s unsuccessful life. I learned from their hardship, especially from my dad. His sacrifice inspired me to move forward. He always reminds me that God helps those who help themselves. I will never forget where I came from, and what I need to do to reach my goals. This practice has enabled me to realize several achievements. My passion and strategy to attain positive changes have helped me to go further. My struggle with finances has given me the courage to withstand real-life challenges, as well as obtain success. 

Tartela Tabassum: #CommunityCollegeBecause...I am a fearless learner

Anything else you’d like for us to know? 
I’m transferring to Duquesne University as a Computer Science Major.

Tartela Tabassum: #CommunityCollegeBecause...I am a fearless learner


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Stasia Lopez is the Global Education Editor for Wandering Educators and is also a Director of Career Services at the Community College of Allegheny County. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Western Michigan University in 2013 and earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Robert Morris University. Stasia is passionate about international education, travel, college to career topics and loves working on a college campus. She’s lived in four different U.S. states (Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania) and also studied and lived abroad in Rome, Italy. Stasia lives in the Pittsburgh area with her husband, Fernando, precious daughter, Maya, and playful kitty-cat Zorro.

All photos courtesy and copyright Tartela Tabassum