Ghufran Hussain graduated this month with a bachelor’s degree in biology

Ghufran Hussain was born months before the start of the Iraq War, the second of five children. To escape the conflict, her family went to Jordan before arriving in United States in 2010 and settling in North Bergen.

Earlier this month, she was a speaker at her commencement ceremony at Rutgers University-Newark, armed with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Hussain is planning to attend physician assistant school.

“Being the child of immigrants, you feel like you have to reach for the stars. A lot of us pursue medicine or law or business to try and do the best for our parents,” says Hussain, who also minored in chemistry. “Mine always told me I could be whatever I wanted, but I still want to pursue medicine as a small way to show them how grateful I am for them and their journey. I also love learning about how the body works and how to make it work better.”

Journalism classes, very far removed from the path of biology and chemistry, afforded Hussain a creative outlet in addition to a potential future hobby in life.

“I love to write, tell stories and interview people, but when I think about being a writer, I see it for myself much later. I could see myself leaning into that creative side as a personal interest in the future,” says Hussain.

In addition to her studies at Rutgers-Newark, Hussain was active on campus. She was an student worker in the Office of Student Life and Leadership; an English tutor to other students; a past president of NJPIRG. She also volunteered at the JBJ Soul Kitchen on campus and worked as a volunteer EMT in the area.

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Throughout the spring, Rutgers Today will be highlighting the accomplishments of the Class of 2024 and sharing stories of the difference our graduates are making at the university and beyond.

During Hussain’s first year when the pandemic kept the community off campus, she spent time trying to find ways to volunteer and came across the NJPIRG Renewable Energy Act, which was petitioning for cleaner energy and environmental sustainability in the state.

 “After spending time working with them, I fell in love with civic engagement and wanted to find even more ways to better the community around me,” says Hussain.

Creating competitions for her NJPIRG and Newark peers to collect the most plastics off campus was just one of the ways Hussain pursued better health outcomes for members of the Newark community. She would also campaign for sustainable initiatives and garner participation in Community Engagement Day, a day held every semester at Rutgers-Newark to volunteer at local organizations to better the community. Winning NJ PIRG’s Ballot Bowl, an initiative to get students registered to vote where Rutgers-Newark placed first the past two years due to her leadership, Hussain feels like she has left her mark.

“While seeing members of the community suffer from things like hunger and homelessness is sad, knowing my peers and I had a direct effect on the people needing help really inspires me,” says Hussain. “At first it was just for the love of it, but now as I reflect, I realize how much these opportunities opened doors for me that I did not even know were there.”

While waiting for results of her applications to physician assistant school, including Rutgers, Hussain plans on continuing to volunteer in the community and gain some clinical experience in the meantime.

Reflecting on her family’s journey to get her to this point, Hussain expresses her gratitude.

“Knowing what my family went through to gain a better life for us kids is why I do my best to help in the community. There was a village around us when we got here and I want to make sure that a welcoming village exists for anyone else who chooses to start their new life here.”