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August 28, 2018
August 28, 2018, Jersey City, NJ – Growing up in eastern Algeria, Abderahim Salhi saw teenagers dropping out of school and joining gangs. While he dedicated himself to working in his family’s business, he came to the realization that money doesn’t last, and what’s really important is the knowledge one acquires. He set his sights on higher education and immigrated to the United States to develop his knowledge and skills at Hudson County Community College (HCCC), where he is pursuing an Associate degree in Computer Science.
Set to graduate next year, Mr. Salhi was recently chosen from a pool of 800 students nationally to receive the $5,000 Phi Theta Kappa 2018 Pearson Scholarship for Higher Education. The honor is bestowed on just 10 students across the nation for their civic engagement, persistence and leadership, and academic rigor and excellence. Preference was given to first-generation college students.
“We are all so proud of Abderahim, said Dr. Chris Reber, President of HCCC. “He is truly deserving of this honor, and his tenacity and resolve are inspiring.”
The Pearson is Phi Theta Kappa Society’s first renewable scholarship and mentorship program supporting both associate and bachelor’s degree completion.Scholarship recipients earn $1,000 to utilize at their associate degree-granting college, and $2,000 each year for two years to be utilized at their four-year college of choice. Complimentary access to Pearson textbooks and online codes are also provided to support each student as they complete their degrees. Scholars also receive a commemorative medallion, which will be awarded during Phi Theta Kappa’s 2019 Annual Convention next April.
For Mr. Salhi, it is a milestone in his journey to reach his educational and professional goals. The 34-year-old HCCC student’s passion for technology and thirst for learning inspire him to make long-range plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.
“It took me almost 16 years until I came here to the U.S. to see my dream come true. Being a new immigrant in the U.S. was not easy, especially with a wife and son,” Salhi said, noting that the couple’s baby and his wife’s encouragement motivate him to be a role model. “I have always enjoyed fixing things, and to know about the different components of electronic devices. Academia is the best place for me. I can see myself sharing my knowledge and experience with passionate students who have the same interests,” Mr. Salhi said.
He has plenty of practice in the College’s STEM lab, where he works. In the STEM Club, Mr. Salhi designed a drone for a capstone project, using Autodesk Fusion 360 and printing the model using a 3D printer. He oversaw the purchase of the electronic parts and helped with the implementation, calibration and tuning of drone equipment. As a Robotics and Programming Workshops Instructor, he has trained eight students on Scratch programming using Google CS First Curriculum. Mr. Salhi also introduced robotics basics using Arduino board and assisted in recruiting students for workshops.
In his Pearson scholarship essay, Mr. Salhi explained how digital technology played a role in influencing his education, and described a learning tool he would create. He wrote:
“I always wanted to pursue a career in the academia, as it is the best soil for me to grow as a researcher. At the same time, I can share my passion for technology with students who want to learn and discover.”
The HCCC Pearson scholarship winner’s vision is to reach students in unconventional ways. “People from all corners of the world can have access to knowledge at their fingertips, from their phones or computers,” he said. “This has inspired me to create a platform that makes the content of traditional textbooks more interactive and responsive. The student will enjoy the same textbooks, but with added features like short videos and quizzes that can be accessed from a phone or computer.”
In addition to the Pearson Scholarship, Mr. Salhi – who is the President of the HCCC Beta Alpha Phi chapter of PTK – has also been awarded a PTK Merit Scholarship, and is an “America Needs You” program fellow.