Popal achieves her 'American Dream'

READING, Pa. — It has been a long and arduous college journey for Habida Popal, but she has finally earned her bachelor's degree with a double major in Science and Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State Berks. Spanning more than 10 years, Popal studied at five different colleges and universities, but attributes the majority of her success and accomplishments to Penn State Berks. She completed one of her degrees during the spring of 2016 and will graduate during the fall 2016 commencement on Dec. 16.

Popal choose to have a dual major because she wanted to challenge herself and sincerely felt that both degrees would help her to develop the skills she needs for the career path she wants to follow. She is interested in practice management within the health care field, so she wanted to develop her interpersonal communication skills, with a focus on health care sciences.

Born in Pakistan, Popal is of Afghan descent. Her family, looking for stability and the chance to live the “American Dream," came to the United States on refugee status sponsored by her grandfather, who was able to obtain permanent residency for her entire family. They have all become U.S. citizens since then. Since the age of three, she has lived in the City of Reading and has been deeply involved with the community from a young age, including being a member of the Olivet Boys & Girls Club and her involvement in numerous community projects.

Popal has always been a driven student and credits Penn State Berks for helping her tap into her potential and motivate her to seek opportunities she normally would not have considered. In her first year, Popal founded the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter at Penn State Berks and also founded the Muslim Student Association. In addition, Popal has also been named vice president of the International Club and was inducted into the Communication honors society, formally known as Lambda Pi Eta. In the spring of 2016, she was a recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership award and the Blaine Steensland Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service. 

“Penn State Berks helped me flourish the potential I always knew I had. I always felt like there was a missing piece of myself throughout my educational career, and the University has helped me complete who I am,” said Popal. “I’m proud of my accomplishments because I know this is what my family came here for. Being the first of my immediate family to receive a degree is an accomplishment for both myself and my family. I never wanted to merely be a statistic, but rather an inspiration.”

Popal is currently working as the temporary interim co-curricular manager of student affairs at Penn State Berks, and hopes to go on to earn her masters of health care administration (MHA) degree.