Student Spot Light: Nancy Elsohafy

Westchester Community College is home to many successful students that have gone on to exceptional schools, despite the assumption that a community college is less demanding than a 4-year institution. For international students, it’s a whole other set of difficulties; to maneuver through the education system and adjust to a new environment.

Nancy Elsohafy, who was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, struggled with her upbringing, but managed to come out on top despite the many trials and difficulties she faced there. “Education in Egypt was and still is very hard,” says Elsohafy. “And in my days, in order to make it you had to be tutored, which is still very common now.” Students would score 106% on extracurricular classes, which shoots up the curve, making it extremely competitive to reach high scores.

Because of the academic standards of Egyptian education, Elsohafy was prepared to later attend Helwan University in Cairo, where she received her bachelor’s in fine arts. After graduating Helwan, she took a break from school to become a wife and mother.

The initial move to the United States was because of her husband’s residency in Washington, where he was brought to because of his work as a diplomat. Some years later, her family moved to New York, where she had a change of heart about returning to school. Putting her foot down, she was determined to receive her PHD.

“My fears before starting school within the U.S., especially starting from scratch as an undergraduate student, was whether it was going to be easy or hard, and if I would be that ‘old’ student in class,” says Elsohafy concerningly. “And it was and still is very hard to study and maintain a high GPA, all while raising my children and managing my household. But it’s totally worth it.”

Her success with WCC is seen through her participation with the honors society and honors college. The Honors College, created last year, selects top performing students who will complete a 2-year degree with honors courses, as well as honors prerequisites that pertain to an academically challenging environment to prepare them to continue into a bachelors program.

Elsohafy got accepted into the Honors College Program in the fall of 2017. “Although it’s quite a rigorous program, and there were days where I doubted myself if I could ever do it, I am halfway through with my degree and i’m aiming to graduate in the spring of 2019.”

Being a full-time student and a single mother of three, living alone in the U.S. away from family is definitely quite a challenge, however, she was anything but alone. “My professors and classmates have been extremely helpful”, says Elsohafy.

Being a student at Westchester Community College has had a huge impact on her life, giving her opportunities to expand her intellect. Over the summer she attended an international program at Cambridge University in London, where she studied science and met people from all over the world under the Honors College scholarship.

“Being a student in the Honors College allowed me to thrive and open up many intellectual opportunities.”

She has plans to attend Columbia University’s Neuroscience graduate program, and her presence in Phi Theta Kappa and the Honors College give her the boost that is needed to make an impression on admissions.  

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