Student Spotlight: Firyal Koshul
Major: Speech Language Pathology
Although Firyal Koshul was born in New Jersey, her family moved to Pakistan when she was 12. After six years, they returned to the U.S., but Koshul was surprised by the challenges she faced.
"Growing up surrounded by two different cultures and experiencing life on opposite sides of the globe, being a practicing Muslim in the States and witnessing 9/11 and also the Boston bombings, and experiencing life in a developed country and an underdeveloped country have made me learn from the smallest of interactions," she said. "My life story is defined by the juxtaposition of three terms: ‘American’, ‘Pakistani’ and ‘Muslim’, which create my identity."
Koshul had just finished her 'A' levels from Pakistan, which is the British system of education and the equivalent of 12th and 13th grade. Because she needed some time to readjust to America, she opted for College of DuPage, knowing it could help her ease into her college studies.
"When I looked into COD, I saw that it was a starting point which would give me the chance to build on my academic endeavors because of the many opportunities it offered. With all of its courses and clubs, it just seemed so welcoming," she said.
"Never did I think that I would have such a demanding and hands-on first two years at college! From being selected as an applicant into the Speech Language Pathology Assistant program, to being inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, to all the hours spent in lectures and labs, to all the smiles in the hallway and random conversations, I have learned so much. I have learned about myself as an individual and also learned from others. COD and its environment has motivated me to challenge myself to do my best and it has rewarded me in many ways when I have accomplished my challenges."
She also has a love for kids, which started when she was in grade school and volunteered with a club for the Special Olympics. While taking prerequisite classes for the SLPA program, she was required to observe therapy in a children's environment. She did one of her observations at Jefferson Early Childhood Center and fell in love with her chosen field. She began volunteering every Friday, which only solidified her decision.
Koshul was named an Outstanding Graduate finalist in 2014. She would like to become licensed and build up some work experience. Initially, she was going to transfer for a bachelor’s degree in Communication Science Disorders, which not many colleges or universities offer. During her clinical rotation, Koshul found herself drawn to occupational therapy. Becoming licensed in both speech therapy and occupational therapy would fulfill a career interest in therapeutic medicine.
She would like to thank College of DuPage for everything it has taught her, both inside and outside the classroom.
"My most outstanding personal experience is made up of all the experiences I had with individuals at COD who had an interest in my way of life and me being able to educate them about who I am as a person," she said. "I have been approached multiple times by people who had opinions about my way of life, both good and bad. But I remember in particular a girl seeing me sitting on a sofa and saying 'Hi' to me, then a minute later adding, 'Or should I say "Asalamualaiykum." I know that too!' Her extending an Arabic greeting to me with such enthusiasm made my day.
"I would tell other students to stop thinking and start doing! Make COD your first step. The graduation stage may be out of sight when you start, but know that you just need to start walking. The opportunities awaiting you and the things you can achieve are endless. There is an entire COD family who will help you make it to that graduation stage. You just need to want it badly enough. That drive is what will earn you your degree."
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