“I spoke very little English and didn’t know much of anything about life in the new world,” she says. She started taking an English as a Second Language class at Howard Community College (HCC) and soon after enrolled in HCC’s pre-pharmacy program.
Now, less than a decade later, Azadeh is a fluent English speaker holding an associate degree from HCC, a master’s degree in palliative care and hospice from the University of Maryland, Baltimore Graduate School, and doctor of pharmacy degree from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. She is currently preparing for her licensing exam and hopes to obtain a job that will allow her to make a positive impact on patients’ lives. Her ultimate dream is to serve as a pharmacist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where she could support research and help patients.
“I focused my studies on older adults and palliative care, so that I have the knowledge and skills needed to improve quality of life and reduce suffering of patients with rare or serious illnesses.”
Azadeh credits HCC with boosting her toward her goals and providing her with a community of support along the way.
“HCC was a second home for me,” she says. “When I came to the States, I had my uncle, but I didn’t have any friends. He connected me to HCC, and that is where I had the opportunity to get my degree, get to know a lot of people, and make friends. HCC also provided a lot of other opportunities for me.”
Through Counseling and Career Services staff, Erfani homed in on the goal of becoming a pharmacist. She also turned to Career Services for mock interview help. Through her professors, she received not only academic instruction but also advice and information about special programs, like an internship opportunity for community college students that she learned about and secured with NIH. Through the Learning Assistance Center, she served as a physics tutor which allowed her to gain experience speaking English while helping other students and earning money.
As a student, Azadeh’s enthusiasm, achievements, and involvement also earned her recognition as Peer Tutor of the Year in 2015 and Student of the Year in the Science, Engineering, and Technology Division in 2016.
“I am very grateful for what I learned and experienced at HCC,” Azadeh says. “I know the true value of all the opportunities that were available to me and the quality education I received from the faculty. I am looking forward to a day when I can repay my debt of gratitude to this great institution.”
She hopes in the future to return to HCC as an adjunct faculty member so she can teach and give back to the community that supported her pathway to success.
“HCC prides itself in helping you ‘get there from here,’” she says. “And honestly, where I am right now is because of HCC.”
Wherever you want to go, you can get there from here.