Tadros with his 4.0 grade point average joins more than 850 students who graduated on May 23, some of whom were able to complete their studies thanks to the helping hand of a scholarship started about a decade ago by then Freeholder Chairman Sal Vega, but recently revamped at the insistence of Freeholder Jose Munoz.
The son of Egyptian immigrants, Tadros postponed pursuing a college education until just two years ago, and was surprised that he had been chosen as Valedictorian, describing himself as “a bad student in high school,” earning mostly Cs and Ds.
After losing his job and not being able to find full-time work in 2011, Tadros decided to attend Hudson County Community College, and began working toward his Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts-English. In addition to working part-time in the college’s student labs, he resurrected the college’s student newspaper, The Orator, and served as that publication’s editor. Tadros was a member of Beta Alpha Phi, the HCCC’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa international honor society, and was involved in a number of community projects as well as Co-Vice President of Communications. He was also presented with first prize in Arts & Entertainment/Critical Writing, a two-year college category, from the New Jersey Collegiate Press Association 2012-13 College Newspaper Contest for his review of “Assassin's Creed 3,” a video game.
Tadros credited one of his professors—Deborah Kanter — for his academic success.
“She gave me the confidence I didn’t have,” he said. “She nurtured and honed my writing skills.” He also applauded his fellow students for their accomplishments.
“I look up to the students who are parents and had to work and raise a family (while studying),” he said. “I didn’t have too much to worry about; I only worked part-time. They deserve the praise.”
After graduating, Tadros—who currently works fulltime in Bayonne—will attend Rutgers University-New Brunswick and study journalism on scholarship. He said that if he should pursue a Master’s degree, it will be at Columbia University, and that he would love to move to San Francisco and write about video games.
Although Tadros hails from nearby Bayonne, a number of students he graduated with at commencement ceremonies held at Prudential Hall in Newark came from halfway around the world.
“We are extremely proud of all of our graduates, and applaud them for all they have done to reach this milestone occasion,” said HCCC President Dr. Glen Gabert. “We are equally proud to be able to share some of the inspiring stories of their courage and determination.”
Glo-an Ramos was born and raised in the Philippines. Lisa Sambula graduated from a Washington, D.C. high school in 1994. In 1992, Yvonne Andreula immigrated to the United States from West Africa (the Ivory Coast) where she was born and raised. Andrea Romero came to this country from her native Guayaquil, Ecuador. Gloria Crawley, a native of Salter, South Carolina, is the only one of her ten siblings to attend college.
Tadros was not the only older students to graduate in this class. Diana Lawrence-Jackson, a 48-year-young Jersey City resident, was unemployed for most of the time she was pursuing her studies at HCCC. Since she could not afford bus fare, she walked to and from campus.
Gabert said some students were able to attend HCCC because of scholarships granted by the Hudson County Freeholders.
Dr. Paula Pando, vice president for student affairs, said three students who came to thank the freeholders at the May 21 caucus, would not have been able to attend college without the scholarships.
O’Dea credited Vega for establishing the program as chairman.
“After a few bumps in the road, we’re able to offer an opportunity for youngsters so that they can get a degree,” O’Dea said.
Gabert gave Vega credit for the scholarship program saying that it benefits students who might not have the financial wherewithal to make it through college on their own.
“When we started the program we asked every freeholder to select a high-school student from their district to get a full scholarship as long as that student met the criteria,” said Vega. “Brian Stack (currently a state senator and mayor of Union City) was a freeholder then. We wanted to have a better understanding of the college and what was being accomplished. We were constructing new buildings and doing renovation, and the North Hudson campus was just being planned. Now it’s a reality. The idea was for us as freeholders to be more engaged with the college and to see the end result. So we set aside money for each freeholder, and from what I’ve seen of the students who graduated this year, I’m very impressed.”
Xavier Blasso from Union City, who graduated in 2013, works as a special-education aide in the Union City school district.
“I’m very grateful,” he said. “(The scholarship) changed my life around and gave me an opportunity. I’m very lucky, and it gave me what I need to achieve.”
Blasso will be continuing his education at New Jersey City University.
Sharon Gallagher of Harrison also expressed her gratitude, saying that the financial help allowed her to keep going in college, as did Shlomif Simahan of West New York.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.