Refugee changes her life through college education and is selected as the recipient of the Dallas Herring Achievement Award

Najma Hasan with Dr. Spalding
SALISBURY, N.C. — Najma Hassan, soon-to-be nursing graduate at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, has been selected out of 58 community college contestants as the North Carolina award winner of the Dallas Herring Achievement Award.

This is the second year in a row that the College’s nominee for a state-level award has been chosen.

Annually, through a rigorous nomination process, the College has the opportunity to select the top achieving students. Competition was rigorous as the College’s Student Excellence Award Committee began with a pool of over 400 eligible students, which included Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Foundation scholarship recipients, faculty and staff nominees, and student organization leaders. Student nominees were invited to write a 500 word essay to be reviewed by a committee, and of the 98 submitted essays, 18 finalists were selected to be interviewed.

Hassan was chosen as the College’s Dallas Herring Achievement Award nominee and was chosen to compete at the state level.

The Dallas Herring Achievement Award is given annually to a current or former community college student who best embodies Dr. Herring’s philosophy. Dr. Herring, a Duplin County native, is acknowledged as the philosophical godfather of the state’s community college system. He may be best known for his belief that education should be available to all and that community colleges should “….take people from where they are, to as far as they can go.”

“We are so proud of Najma and her accomplishments. She has represented Rowan-Cabarrus well and we congratulate her,” said Carl M. Short, chair of the Rowan-Cabarrus Board of Trustees.

However, this is not the first time that Hassan has shared her story with the community and the College. Hassan was asked to speak to about 400 people at the College Foundation’s annual scholarship luncheon in 2016.

Hassan was born in 1989 in Somalia, a very dangerous country. “The civil war was just beginning. I lost many family members, including my father, to the violence. Growing up, my mother feared for my safety,” said Hassan. “In 2007, as the oldest girl, I was chosen to leave the family – to find a better place for us, send home money, and eventually bring my family to safety. My mother literally sold everything she had to get me out.”photo of Najma Hasan with other award recipients Hassan came to America as a refugee four years ago.

“When I came here, I had no high school diploma and obviously English wasn’t my first language. I worried about how I would get into nursing school! I can tell you that I have worked very hard since arriving here in America,” said Hassan.

“The most important thing in my life, of course, is helping my family. People often tell me that I am very positive, considering all I have been through,” said Hassan.

Hassan will graduate in May with her associate degree in nursing. She has been employed in the healthcare field throughout her time in the program and looks forward to launching her career as a registered nurse upon graduation. She has already secured employment in the Intensive Care Unit with Novant Health.

“Najma is a true inspiration to us all and we are honored to have her as one of our students. She has overcome so much in her life. This is just the beginning for her,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus.

For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit The College will begin summer classes on May 22, 2017.