Hudson County Community College’s Raida Al Hattab One of Six HCCC Students Named Semifinalists for the 2023 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship

May 3, 2023

HCCC Student Raida Al Hattab

HCCC Student Raida Al Hattab, a 2023 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship Semifinalist

May 3, 2023, Jersey City, NJ – Between taking care of a family and working, it isn’t always easy to go back to school as a nontraditional student like HCCC’s Raida Al Hattab. But not only did Raida successfully juggle all of these responsibilities during her time at HCCC, she thrived, earning a 4.0 GPA on her way to being named a semifinalist for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

After coming to the United States from her native Jordan, Raida worked as a teacher’s assistant in Nebraska, a job that she loved because she was able to connect with her students and help them learn in areas in which they were struggling. After moving to New Jersey, she worked as a substitute teacher but the nature of the job made it difficult to form that same type of bond with students.

With a background in STEM from her education in Saudi Arabia, Raida had a strong desire to learn about coding and cybersecurity. People told Raida that she was too old to learn something new, but she didn’t let that dissuade her and ultimately proved the doubters wrong by excelling in HCCC’s cybersecurity program.

Raida says age is just a number and she hopes that continuing her education inspires her children to remember that “learning never stops.” She encourages her four children to continue their own educational journeys and to pursue their master’s degrees. She encourages other nontraditional students and anyone who considers resuming their education to go for it, stating that when you begin learning something new, you feel rejuvenated.

Raida says that “HCCC is my home” and that she felt welcomed here from the moment she walked into the admissions office. She felt like everyone was invested in her success here. She credits Professor Faisal Aljamal with pushing her to excel in her new area of study, “because he always challenges students to improve their skills and places high expectations on them. When you see that he believes in you, it helps you to believe in yourself.”

Raida earned a 4.0 GPA at HCCC and will graduate with a degree in computer science in May. She has already been accepted to New Jersey City University where she will study cybersecurity. She states that New Jersey City University’s partnership with HCCC makes it a straightforward process for HCCC students to continue their studies there. Raida is interested in ethical hacking, and passionate about cybersecurity, coding, and computer science in general. She is looking for an internship in the cybersecurity field.

Raida is one of a record six HCCC students named 2023 semifinalists for the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Joining Raida as semifinalists from HCCC are Sally Elwir, Criminal Justice major from Bloomfield; Ella Mukasa, Business Administration major from Jersey City; Montaha Osman, Engineering Science major from Garfield; Birva Pinto, Engineering Science Major from Jersey City; and Michael Salinas, Computer Science major from Jersey City.

HCCC President Dr. Christopher Reber said, “The entire HCCC community joins me in congratulating Raida, Sally, Ella, Montaha, Birva, and Michael on achieving semifinalist status for this esteemed scholarship. This is a great honor for them and for the College. We are very proud that their leadership, extraordinary academic achievements, and community service have been recognized nationally. We wish them all the best as they progress in this process. This award is a game changer for the students who receive it, as it paves the way for them to achieve a four-year education that otherwise would come with a significant financial burden.”

The Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship is designed to create a clear pathway to a fouryear degree by offering up to $55,000 per year for baccalaureate study along with other benefits including academic advising and access to a network of peers. Some of the latest research from the American Talent Initiative estimates that, annually, about 50,000 high-achieving students from lowincome backgrounds, who could transfer to four-year colleges, often are unable to do so because of the prohibitive cost of continuing their education.

The Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship offers unparalleled support to community college students. In addition to the generous financial support, selected Cooke Transfer Scholars will receive educational advising from the Foundation’s Deans of Scholar Support, who guide them through the process of transitioning to a four-year school and preparing for their future endeavors. They will also have access to opportunities for internships, study abroad, graduate school funding, and the incomparable connection to a robust network of more than 3,000 fellow Cooke Scholars and alumni. The Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship recipients will be announced later in May.

Hudson County Community College has a distinguished track record when it comes to the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. Past award recipients include 2021 Valedictorian Pedro Moranchel, now a student at Princeton University; Abdellah Amrhar in 2020, now attending Columbia University; and Sarra Hayoune in 2019, who completed her Bachelor of Science degree at Stevens Institute of Technology. Sarra then went on to receive the Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Transfer Scholarship and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy at Rutgers University.