Hometown: Zambia, Iraq
Major: Double-major in Middle Eastern Studies and Social Work
WCSU Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies and Bachelor of Science in Social Work
Activities: Social Work club, Phi Alpha honors society, Muslim Students Association and other various clubs
INTERNSHIPS: Connecticut General Assembly, Torrington Family Resource Center
Honors and Awards: Dean's List, 3.8 GPA, Phi Alpha honors society, Made a Difference Award, Women's Awards
Nontraditional student Nariman Omar attended Naugatuck Valley Community College near her home in Watertown for a year before deciding to transfer to Western Connecticut State University. "WestConn was rated best for its social work program and I had heard good things about Professor of History and Non-Western Cultures Dr. Abubakar Saad, and other professors at WCSU," she says, when asked why she ended up at WCSU.
One of the advantages Omar found at Western was the ability to create her own program of study as a contract major. "I am very compassionate about social work and helping everyone," she explains. "I also am from Kurdistan, Iraq, and that motivated me to learn more about the Middle East and to make it into a Middle Eastern Studies contract major."
Omar says she found plenty of support from faculty in both of her majors. "Assistant Professor of Social Work Rebecca Wade-Rancourt, Professor of Sociology Dr. Carina Bandhauer and Dr. Saad became mentors for me," she says. "Professor Wade-Rancourt helped me navigate how to deal with certain situations as a social worker. Dr. Bandhauer and Dr. Saad helped me create the Middle Eastern Studies contract major and were a major help in guiding me with the refugee work that I do."
Asked what she will remember most about her Western experience, Omar says, "My most memorable experience at WestConn is seeing a flyer for a migration class and calling the professor who was conducting the class. The flyer had a picture of a Kurdish boy who had drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. This touched me because I am of Kurdish ethnicity and this little boy's story impacted me so much. The professor turned out to be Dr. Bandhauer, and while I never took the migration class, I did end up learning the class material as an independent study and doing ethnographic work in Za'atari camp in Jordan."
After graduation, Omar says she plans on going to graduate school, "but am taking some time off to spend with my family."
Omar's advice to new students entering WCSU is: "Take in the next four years and take every chance you get to make connections to those around you! This is your education and only you can make the best of it. Your professors are here as a tool and take those extra two minutes after class to reach out to them."