Oakton Honors Program plants seed for graduate to join Doctors Without Borders

(July 2, 2020) Maryana Nissan of Niles credits Oakton Community College’s Honors Program for much of her academic success. This fall, Nissan will attend the University of Illinois-Chicago, where she will major in neuroscience. However, she doesn’t plan on stopping there. Her ultimate goal is to ally herself with the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders.

“Joining the Honors Program at Oakton was one of the best decisions I ever made,” Nissan, a graduate of Maine East High School, explains. “The program ignited my passion for higher education. I learned the beauty of learning is that it never stops.”

The Honors Program at Oakton consists of small classes, dedicated faculty and motivated students. The program encourages the exploration of intellectual curiosity through research, seminars and more.

Kristin McCartney, co-coordinator of Oakton's Honors Program and associate professor of Philosophy and Humanities, says that Nissan will go far in life because of her compassion.

“Maryana cares deeply for others as well as our shared community. She was extremely active at Oakton while working over 20 hours a week in a doctor’s office and caring for her younger sister,” McCartney said.

That compassion is what fuels Nissan’s desire to join Doctors Without Borders.

“I lived in Syria until I was 10 years old. I know what it’s like to be without access to medicine. There are so many people out there who are underprivileged. The ultimate reward for me is to help others as everyone has a right to medical treatment.”

Nissan is one of just 11 students who distinguished themselves by completing 18 credit hours within the Honors Program during the 2019-2020 academic year, earning the Honors Scholar designation. This is the highest achievement possible within the Honors Program and requires an exceptional level of dedication to academic excellence. She also earned a 4.0 GPA this past spring.

In addition, she was named the Honors Program STEM Student of the Year. While at Oakton, Nissan earned recognition as a President’s Scholar and served as the vice president for the campus chapter of the International UNICEF organization, co-president of the Honors Student Organization and on a student panel to address climate change concerns.

“Oakton helped me step out of my comfort zone, allowed me to figure out who I wanted to be and shaped me into the person I am now,” Nissan says.

Visit Honors at Oakton for more information about opportunities available to students through the Honors program.