Student Success Stories

Student success, Samarah Al-Khawaldeh

“Once I obtain my dental degree I want to go into public health and open a non-profit organization. I will probably start off volunteering here in New Orleans helping the homeless, then go abroad to places like Haiti or India providing dental care to everyone—so everyone can have it,” said Samarah Al-Khawaldeh.

Al-Khawaldeh is in the Louisiana Transfer Degree program with a concentration in biology at Delgado Community College on the West Bank Campus. “After I obtain my degree from Delgado I plan to transfer to Our Lady of Holy Cross (OLHCC) and obtain a bachelor’s degree in biology with a pre-dental concentration, and then hopefully get into Louisiana State University (LSU). That is my
first option, but it is so competitive because it’s the only dental school in Louisiana,” she said.

Although Al-Khawaldeh has her eyes on LSU, she has a few other schools in mind as a back-up plan. She is also considering the University of Michigan, University of Detroit Mercy, Ohio State University and New York University (NYU). “It would be like a Harvard dream if I get accepted into NYU,” said Al-Khawaldeh.

Al-Khawaldeh would drive her mother crazy playing the game “come and visit the dentist” with her four siblings when she was a child. “I have a huge gap between me and my siblings so every time they would get a loose tooth I would play that role—the role of the dentist. The dentist showed me even though I don’t have the tools. I’ll use my fingers and I’ll get it and I’ll take it out. I would tell them to say your ABCs or something, close your eyes, take a deep breath and I’ll pull it out,” she laughed.

Al-Khawaldeh says that she loves biology and learning how the body works and functions and she is so excited to learn about the anatomy and the physiology of the mouth. Her expected graduation date is 2016.


Student success, April Curran

Ever since she can remember, April Curran, sophomore and youngest of eight children, would sit down and draw with her oldest brother. In grade school she would sit in class and doodle for hours in her notebooks. But it wasn’t until she got to junior high school and started attending New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) that she decided to make being an artist a career. So when college rolled around and she asked herself what she should study, it was a no-brainer.

Curran is a general studies major with a concentration in painting at Delgado Community College. While at NOCCA, she learned the basics of drawing, painting, and color theory. “NOCCA is like college prep. Coming [to Delgado] is like a recap. Over there they kind of baby you. Over here you already have the skills, but you have to be an adult and take charge. It is more advanced here and you are taught more advanced techniques,” said Curran.

Curran completed her first year at the Northshore site, where she won a contest for an assignment depicting the colorful candy snack Skittles. The competition was judged by local artist and Loyola professor Mark Grote. Curran is multi-talented. Not only is she a painter, but also a writer and a cellist, and she also likes to cook. In love with art and the art world, Curran will peek inside a few galleries on Royal and Julia streets or take a leisurely stroll in the Sculpture Garden in City Park whenever she can steal a moment between classes, work, and painting. “My free time is art time, but that is good because that is something that I really enjoy so I actually put effort into it. I also spend my spare time prepping for shows because it takes a lot to prep for that sort of thing,” she said.

Curran is already making a living as an artist. She has been selling art consistently since junior high where she sold her first painting. The vice principal at that time commissioned her to do a water color drawing of a magnolia. Curran did the painting, framed it and sold it for $400. After lots of networking to figure out where she can put up her current art work until she opens her own gallery, she just received a permit to sell in Jackson Square in February.

Curran is not a starving artist; in addition to being an entrepreneur, she works with the New Orleans Hornets basketball team as a member of Buzz Patrol at the home games. “The starving artist thing doesn’t really work for me. I am a little bit more materialistic than that. I am very business minded, too. My last jobs were in sales, which even though I wasn’t selling art work, I am sure I learned a few things that will apply to the art world,” said Curran. “Ironically, I was just talking to one of my teachers about volunteer hours but she said that actually she was hiring at her gallery, so I am thinking I can replace my other side job with that because it is in my field.”

In five years, Curran will be 25 and hopes to be either in graduate school or have her career completely figured out. “No matter what I do, I want to own a gallery on the side. The teachers here are active in the art world and most of them have galleries. If I have questions they know the answer. I think of this organization [Delgado] as a whole and what it is doing to improve my career. I can see it happening already—the process. Every month I am a step closer,” she said.

This semester Curran is taking classes in water color, advanced painting, 3-D design art, and Spanish.




Student success, Joshua Simmons

Before attending Delgado Community College, student Joshua Simmons was already busy fulfilling his dreams. He created flash websites for two of the artists that won on BET's Sunday Best, a competition for gospel singers. Simmons's major is general studies, concentrating on graphic design and digital photography. "I’m a freelance photographer/graphic designer. I recently started doing photography and graphics in September of 2011 and fell in love with it. Every time I pick up my camera, it's almost like a whole new world is seen through the lens. My favorite things to shoot are fashion and beauty. My goal is not only to shoot photographs, but to output high-quality, sharp and vibrant images. I’m very different from other photographers, I love to laugh and have fun in the process of capturing each moment."

Not only is Simmons a photographer, but he is also a Christian recording artist and songwriter. For the past few months, Simmons has been working on his first album and has already released two singles from the album. Music has always played a big part of his life. He was heavily influenced by the church and his family, one in particular just happens to be the famous gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson.

After graduation, Simmons hopes to win a Grammy Award and have his own photo studio in New York city shooting for Vogue.



Patricia Parker: From an associate’s to a master’s degree

Today, Patricia Parker is working on a master’s degree in special education at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. It takes commitment to earn an advanced degree, but she has become a good student and stopped doubting that she would succeed in college. “I went to the University of Louisiana (UL) straight out of high school, but I wasn’t ready,” said Parker. “So I went back home and started waiting tables while I was attending massage school. I realized very quickly that I didn’t want to wait tables for the rest of my life.”

Parker graduated from Delgado in 2008. While at Delgado, she served as secretary of Phi Theta Kappa, an academic honor society. She majored in general studies with a concentration in biology. Then she went on to obtain her bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from McNeese State University.

After getting into a little trouble as a teenager, Parker was inspired to work with special needs kids when she had to do community service at Happy Trails Therapeutic Horsemanship Center. The center provides horseback rides for people with various disabilities. “I only had to volunteer for two months, but I have been there now for 12 years,” said Parker. “Working at the center changed my life.” Parker doesn’t have to worry about waiting tables anymore; she already has a job lined up at St. Michael’s Special School in New Orleans.

“I feel really fortunate to have time to be selfish and focus on a career,” said Parker. “I started out at the very bottom at Delgado by taking remedial math and English classes. When I was growing up I didn’t realize why good grades were so important, but today I have a 4.0 GPA. I love Delgado. It was a good foundation for me and I wouldn’t change my experience for anything in the world.” Parker will be graduating from Southeastern in December 2012.



Jarrell Sanchez: Math is a part of everyday life

Although he is only 23, Jarrell Sanchez already has his career goals mapped out. Sanchez aspires to be a certified public accountant (CPA) and a part-time teacher.

He is an honor student with a double major at Delgado Community College. He is pursuing associate’s degrees in accounting and general studies with a concentration in math.

“Math comes easy to me—after you get the basics down everything just builds from that,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez’s favorite math classes are calculus, proofing, and sequences. “You use numbers in everyday life, whether it’s dialing a telephone or paying bills,” he said.

Sanchez also admits that it is important to have a good teacher and a good tutor. He is a tutoring specialist in the math lab at Delgado’s City Park campus where he helps students solve all types of math problems.

Sanchez plans to continue his education at a local four-year school after he graduates and he has a little advice for those who may not love math as much as he does: “Practice, practice, practice, because practice makes perfect.”