A Learning Environment for All
Jordan-born Arin Alkanani calls herself a big-picture person who wants all the pieces of the puzzle right at her fingertips. She credits Lehigh Carbon Community College for her confidence with English as a second language – a key component of her nursing career success, learning discoveries, trajectory and more.
In 1999, Alkanani married and moved to the Lehigh Valley from her Arabic-speaking Jordan, and soon after started a family.
Difficulty Adjusting to the U.S.
“Coming from Jordan to the U.S. was very terrifying,” says Alkanani. “Not knowing the language, aside from ‘please,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome,’ and not knowing the culture – everything was just different. It was a big shock and it was not easy to adjust, especially with having three young children to care for and not having my own family here to help.”
Alkanani prioritized being a full-time parent, and once her youngest entered preschool, she set her sights on her own education: enrolling at LCCC.
Like Finding an International College
Curious about the sciences and with aspirations to earn her doctorate, Alkanani discovered LCCC in 2009.
“Finding LCCC was like finding a college for multicultural students. It’s what grabbed my attention. It feels like an international college because there’s such a mix of students from everywhere,” says Alkanani.
Alkanani took the ESL placement test to ensure a smart start, advanced to college-level English and soon experienced a major breakthrough: being able to write in English.
“Writing was the biggest challenge because your thoughts and ideas are in a different language, but you have to translate your thoughts to English. Then the whole sentence structure is different,” says Alkanani.
Support, Patience and Genuine Care
She notes that the ESL program at LCCC is truly set apart from other institutions, that it offers an environment of committed support, patience and an abundance of genuine care for each and every student.
“LCCC was helpful from the very beginning, and everything was taken step by step,” says Alkanani. “You’re in classes with students who are in the same exact boat as you. All of us were sharing the same struggles, and all of us had big dreams we were working toward.”
A Budding Passion for Nursing and Teaching
Somewhat to her surprise, Alkanani’s big dream turned out to be nursing. The career choice landed on her radar during biology class, when a class discussion touched upon the wealth of options and flexibility. Nursing was a ready fit for her affinity for the sciences, and as student tutor for biology and anatomy and physiology, Alkanani’s big picture was really coming into focus. She learned she wanted to teach too.
Alkanani transferred to Cedar Crest College with 60 credits – and a world of self-assurance. From there, she went on to earn her nurse practitioner degree at DeSales University in 2021, all while being a clinical instructor for nursing students and working full-time as a nurse at Lehigh Valley Health Network during the pandemic.
Alkanani says, “I honestly think my experience of being an ESL student at LCCC, of trying to blend in and balance everything while trying to learn, really helped me survive and understand how to manage my time.”
Alkanani doesn’t picture herself as someone who’ll ever be finished learning; she’s simply too curious for that to be the case. And for right now, only one puzzle piece remains – earning her doctorate.
At present, she is a nurse practitioner at a local senior care facility and continues to teach as a clinical instructor. She envisions herself doing so full-time with her doctorate in hand.
The Kind of Teacher She Wants to Be
As for the kind of teacher she wants to be, Alkanani hopes to convey the same level of passion, encouragement and open dialogue as some of her ESL and core study professors at LCCC.
“I want to give my students what my instructors gave me. I want students to be engaged the way I was engaged at LCCC,” says Alkanani. “My professors provided so much feedback and it was such a huge encouragement for me. It wasn’t like I was the student and they were the teacher. It was always a learning environment for all of us.”
For more information regarding ESL services at LCCC contact Kenza Glass, English Language Learners Education Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-769-1347.