For Edil Nour, the trek across GGC’s campus symbolized her goal of achieving independence.
The long, steady climb between buildings looks deceptively easy, but was particularly challenging for Nour, who had to propel her wheelchair up the hill between classes. Sometimes as she stopped to rest, students and employees would come to her aid.
Being in a wheelchair was still new to Nour when she came to GGC. She became paralyzed below the chest when her family’s car was struck by another during her senior year in high school.
Her life changed in an instant. She had to work out to develop upper-body strength for maneuvering her wheelchair, and she had to change how she approached routine tasks.
Nour also changed her education plans. Instead of going to college out of town, she enrolled at GGC so she could live at home. Still, she wanted to be as independent as possible, which is why she often declined help getting up GGC’s long hill.
“People ask why I don’t get a motorized chair, but it’s important to get the exercise,” she said. “I’m not the type of person to ask for help, and I had a goal to make it up the hill all by myself.”
Then one day, while struggling up the hill, she saw a man get out of a car and run toward her. She hoped he was not coming to help her, but he did.
“You look tired, and I really want to help,” said Max Doster, ’19. His wife, Pamela, ’20, caught up to him and together, the two political science majors accompanied Nour up the hill.
“I realized my independence isn’t tied to climbing that hill nor is it tied to getting help,” Nour said. “Independence is tied to your mentality, your determination and your mindset. Regardless of what I have been through, I am independent, and I am proud of that fact.”
Nour was later able to make it up the hill on her own. She also started driving a hand-operated car, giving her more control over her schedule and enabling her to be a more involved student. Her growing self-confidence blossomed into a rich college experience.
She became active in several registered student organizations, often taking on leadership positions. She served fellow students through a student assistant job in the Financial Aid Office, and as a Peer Supplemental Instruction leader, she tutored biology and chemistry students. She also served on the Student Integrity Board and won a 2018 Outstanding Student Award in Leadership.
Nour cited several faculty mentors who had encouraged her, both within and outside of her major. One was Dr. Neelam Khan, associate professor of physics, who included Nour as a co-author on two research papers about certain nitride compounds of interest to the physics and materials science arenas. The papers recently appeared in the peer-reviewed journals Applied Physics Letters and MRS Advances.
Nour graduated with honors, earning a bachelor’s degree in biology with a biochemistry concentration and chemistry minor. She wants to become a psychiatrist and is studying for the Medical College Admission Test. She plans to apply to a combination M.D./Ph.D. program at a university out of state.
“GGC will always be a home to me. The community here is something that I will forever cherish,” Nour said. “We don’t always have a smooth journey. But we should not let bad circumstances hinder us or diminish our dreams. GGC helped me become the confident adult that I am.”
Read more about the college, its student and alumni in GGC's Engage Magazine.