Edmonds Community College News
Small business owner earns 2008 Distinguished Alumni AwardRelease Date: December 12th, 2008
Small business owner, Ismail Mohammad, who earned his Associate of Arts degree at Edmonds Community College in 2004, received the college's 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award. Mohammad is a student in the Executive Master’s in Public Administration program at the University of Washington.
Read Ismail Mohammad's story:
A father of three and owner of four small businesses, Ismail Mohammad, 51, of Woodinville, wants to work to alleviate poverty with an international organization. He’s learning the skills he’ll need in the Executive Master’s in Public Administration program at the University of Washington. When he began his education at Edmonds Community College, Mohammad didn’t have such big dreams. He was just listening to his wife. She urged him to take the opportunity to get an education, because it’s an opportunity most people in Mohammad’s native Pakistan don’t have. In Pakistan, Mohammad was the director of a manufacturing plant with 200 employees. He’d been working since age 16. After immigrating to the United States, he opened two Subway franchises and two gas stations with convenience stores. Starting school as a businessman at age 42 wasn’t easy. One day, overwhelmed, he called home to say he was done. His wife promptly handed the phone to their eldest son, Iqbal, also a student at Edmonds CC. “Your father wants to quit,” she said. “Dad, what kind of example are you going to give me?” Iqbal asked. And Mohammad had to continue. He took a day off work, went to the library to read, and learned a lesson, “If you are ready for class, it is a lot more fun.” But one class in particular Mohammad calls his “turning point” — the class that started him on his path to a bachelor’s degree. He took Art 120 to fulfill a requirement and found his passion. Instructor Melissa Newell remembers the class, a group of engaged students, in a survey course of visual arts across eras and cultures. She was just starting to adapt the class to fulfill the college’s cultural diversity requirement. In one lecture, she taught Art and Architecture from Muslim civilizations. “Art can be a way of locating yourself in history,” she said. “I wanted the students to understand that they were a part of the history we were talking about.” After that class, Mohammad knew, “I might be doing business, but my passion is history and study of civilization, people, and urban planning. That night I went to the counselor at Edmonds CC and said, ‘I want to pursue this passion’.” He stayed up until 2 a.m. planning his way through the Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences he would complete at the University of Washington in 2008. Mohammad is an active volunteer with the Ismaili Muslim community. He helped the college connect with the local Muslim community when it hosted a scholar from Morocco as part of the Fulbright Visiting Specialists Program: Direct Access to the Muslim World. Mohammad’s dream is to work with Aga Khan Development Network, a non-profit that helps improve living conditions and provide opportunities for the poor, without regard to their faith, origin or gender. It works in many Muslim and neighboring countries.