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"Learning truly happens both inside and outside of the classroom."
Alan Shahry '09 considers having attended Harford Community College to be a blessing, and he wants others to know that choosing HCC is the right decision. "I went on to other schools for higher degrees, but the quality of education and experience I received there wasn't the same as what I received at HCC."
Alan graduated from Harford with an A.A. in Music and transferred to the University of Maryland, College Park where he earned a Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance in 2013. He later changed course and attended the University of Denver to earn an M.S. in Information Technology, and is now enjoying a successful career as a front end web developer for Forum One, a digital agency.
Alan took advantage of the many activities available at Harford. As a musician, he performed not only in HCC recitals, but also with the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and with HCC's music students' ensemble at An die Musik Live in Baltimore under the direction of instructors Benny Russell and Keith Kramer. He tutored at the College's Learning Center and found it to be a great way for him to learn and help other students as well, saying, "It was truly a win-win situation." He served as an officer in Harford's Rho Beta Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the International Honor Society of two-year colleges. With PTK, he participated in service learning projects such as "Adopt the Road" and also helped keep Rocks State Park clean and inviting.
He enjoyed the unique opportunities the College’s Honors Program presented. His Art History honors class visited Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob, two magnificent homes in Pennsylvania designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. One of the class projects in the honors section of American History taught by Dr. Jamie Karmel required research on what early settlers prepared for meals. On the last day of class, students brought in some of the different food items, Dr. Karmel served a crockpot full of soup, and the class shared a meal. "All of these great experiences shaped my outlook and have made me feel forever grateful."
Alan said his educators at HCC were just amazing, and he enjoyed their creative teaching methods. For example, he loved the fact that students were given a voice in the History of Film class taught by Professor Wayne Hepler; it helped him to understand what democracy and academic freedom meant. "We debated about what we should watch next in class. I felt that my vote counted and my voice and opinion were heard! It was delightful.”
As a member of the Multicultural Student Association, Alan travelled to Harlem in New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC to visit museums and other sites and learn about such topics as African American culture and U.S. history. MSA held weekly sessions and each month was dedicated to a particular culture. He started a column entitled "Multicultural Student Talk" for the Owl student newspaper.
"The first time I was on campus, I noticed the flags from around the world. I learned that these flags represent and honor faculty, staff, and students originally coming from those countries. One of the things I truly appreciate about HCC is that diversity is a great part of the College." In 2011, Alan became a U.S. citizen.
Alan participated in a mentorship program under the direction of Student Diversity Specialist Sharoll Love that helped to shape his experience at Harford and made learning enjoyable. His mentors, Professors Fary Sami and England, shared their perspective, knowledge and experience during weekly meetings.
A dedicated and hard-working student, he was the recipient of a Harford Community College Music Scholarship and President Chiesi Excellence in Performing Arts Award. In addition, he received the Maryland Governor's Citation for Academic Achievements, was a member of the All USA & Maryland Academic Team, was a Student College Life Gold Level Certified Leader, and received a certificate of excellence from the Multicultural Student Association.
Alan's advice to other students: "I would say that HCC is beyond courses and classrooms. Learning truly happens both inside and outside of the classroom. Participate in Student Life activities. There are many clubs to join! Become friends with those people whose first language is not the same as yours. This can open windows for us to see the world! Think how you can serve your campus community by volunteer work. This is how you grow your appreciation for life and can help you feel even more grateful."
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