Hudson County Community College Class of 2024 Valedictorian Inspires and Excels by Seizing Opportunities at Every Turn

May 20, 2024

Valedictorian Najwa Essaki

Najwa Essaki, Hudson County Community College Class of 2024 Valedictorian.

May 20, 2024, Jersey City, NJ –  Hudson County Community College (HCCC) Class of 2024 Valedictorian Najwa Essaki is an immigrant and first-generation college student who made hard work, compassion, inclusion, and community advocacy the trademarks of her College journey. Najwa addressed her peers at the HCCC Commencement Ceremony on Thursday, May 16 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ.

Najwa enrolled at HCCC in 2022 to overcome a language barrier. Excelling in her English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, she maintained a 4.0 GPA while pursuing her Associate’s degree in Accounting, participating in a federal work study program, and completing her Intuit Bookkeeping Professional Certificate through the Gateway to Innovation program. She worked side-by-side with her fellow students in community outreach and enrichment activities such as preparing meals and caring for the homeless, organizing blood drives, and more. Throughout her College experience, she engaged in multiple leadership roles. 

“My journey began with a commitment to serving those in need by volunteering at the Hoboken Shelter,” Najwa said, noting the experience ignited her sense of empathy and compassion. “Through my multifaceted involvement in campus life, academic pursuits, and professional development, I have cultivated a strong foundation of leadership, inclusivity, and dedication to making a positive impact in my community and beyond.”

HCCC clubs, organizations, and programs nurtured her academic and personal growth. Najwa developed cultural competence in the HCCC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Student Passport Program, an eight-week online leadership experience. She served as a Peer Leader in the Office of Student Life and Leadership; President of the Student Programming Board; Vice President of Scholarships for Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) International Honor Society; Publicity Chair for National Society of Student Leadership and Success; Director of Record Keeping for HCCC Student Government Association; Vice President of the Arab Student Association; and College Student Success Mentor. 

Najwa organized and hosted events such as "Welcome to the Arab World," multicultural celebrations, Women's History Month programs, fall festivals, and more. She participated in the “It’s On Us” national campaign to combat campus sexual assault; joined a delegation at New Jersey Senate and Assembly Public Hearings for state 2025 Fiscal Year Budget; and offered insight to help improve student outcomes at Enrollment Management Council meetings. Recently, she was nominated as a New Jersey Council of County Colleges “New Jersey Student of the Year.”

“Throughout my academic career at HCCC, I seized every opportunity to develop my leadership skills and make a lasting impact. These experiences allowed me to connect with a diverse array of students and provided valuable opportunities for personal growth and learning.” 

“Najwa Essaki is a role model and a glowing example of the very finest of Hudson County Community College’s students,” said HCCC President Dr. Christopher Reber. “We are confident she will continue leading, nurturing inclusivity, and serving the community throughout her life.”