Former Harrison Student Shows Gratitude In Big Way
John Carroll senior Najam Hassan remembers fondly his years at Harrison Elementary, which were also his first years here in America as a young Pakistani immigrant with his family. “Everyone welcomed me really well, it was like being part of a family,” Hassan said. “It’s where I learned to speak the language.”
All these years later, Hassan found a way to show his gratitude to his former school and teachers who helped shape him into the successful and determined young man he has become. He brought a crew of fellow John Carroll students back to his old school to volunteer as part of the university’s “Boler Community Day” on April 27.
The day is a tradition of John Carroll’s Boler School of Business and each year crews of volunteers spread out into Northeast Ohio elementary schools to help out for the day. Hassan, wanting badly to include Harrison on the list of schools, joined the organizing committee of Boler Day just to make sure Harrison made the list this year.
What Hassan, a business major, hoped to accomplish with the day at Harrison was to show the young students that it’s a good thing to give back. “Hopefully when they grow up they will want to give back too,” he said. About 15% of Harrison’s students are limited English speakers and for them, seeing Hassan was a chance to meet someone who was just like them when he was in school. He gave the students hope that his success can be theirs as well.
“I am so proud of him,” said Hassan’s former ESL teacher, Jeannette Sgambellone. “We always knew he would be successful.” Sgambellone was thrilled when Hassan called her up with the idea of coming with his troop of volunteers. “I knew it would be a great opportunity to show our students that college is within their reach.”
The 30-plus college students spent the afternoon at Harrison helping with lab experiments, reading to the students, playing games and doing arts and crafts together. Big smiles were across all the students’ faces, both elementary and college as they all got to know each other a little.
And that was the payoff for Hassan, who recently landed a job as a management trainee with First Federal of Lakewood.
Said Hassan: “When you put a smile on a young kid’s face, you can’t put a price tag on that.”