Muhamad receives full ride to JMU

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Muhamad receives full ride to JMU

Senior Pana Muhamad will be starting at JMU in the fall of 2019.

Senior Pana Muhamad will be starting at JMU in the fall of 2019.

Maya Waid

Senior Pana Muhamad will be starting at JMU in the fall of 2019.

Maya Waid

Maya Waid

Senior Pana Muhamad will be starting at JMU in the fall of 2019.

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Growing up in Harrisonburg and always being around the James Madison University (JMU) campus, senior Pana Muhamad knew it was the place for him.

“Ever since I’ve lived in Harrisonburg, JMU has been the place that I want to go to. JMU is a big campus and I really like it. I didn’t visit many other colleges because I knew I wanted to end up at JMU. Also, my cousin went to JMU and said it was pretty fun and he also had a scholarship so I knew it was a good fit for me,” Muhamad said.

Although Muhamad knew that JMU was where he would go to college, he received an extra incentive to go there. Muhamad is one of three recipients of the JMU scholarship at Harrisonburg High School which provides students with financial aid and more opportunities in college.

“The scholarship program is a program to help students with lower financial aid but to help students who are eligible for the Pell Grant to have an opportunity to go to college,” Muhamad said. “It helps them get ready for the four years at JMU. It helps them give back to the community, so it definitely benefits the students.”

The scholarship program accepts people within the financial and academic criteria who apply. After starting the application process in March of 2018, Muhamad believes the process was not overly stressful.

“The application was not even that bad. First, you had to fill out your FAFSA and confirm that you were Pell Grant eligible and then afterwards you had to write three paragraphs with 1000 characters about various things. When you get past that stage, they put you in an interview and then they make their final decisions about who receives it,” Muhamad said. “Currently, I am going through the final steps by reverifying my FAFSA and once that is complete I’ll be good to go.”

In the program, only select students are eligible and get accepted. Due to this, Muhamad believes it greatly promotes students to graduate from college and be successful.

“I think this scholarship promotes [students to go to and graduate from college] a lot. It is a diverse program so you are going to meet all types of people and I think it is going to cause a whole new experience, especially when you are coming back. By coming back I mean where you chose to do your community service. My plan is to do my service here at HHS just to show kids that I got to college, therefore you can get there too and so can everyone else. I think it is a good experience and it should open eyes especially my sisters. I hope my sister looks up to me and sees that it is possible for us to get scholarships and for us to go to college,” Muhammad said.

The scholarship has already made an impact on Muhamad by supporting him financially and also providing opportunities for him to start college.

“I am so grateful for this scholarship. It is not necessarily all about the money, it is just really helpful to me because I am going to a whole new area. I don’t really know anyone there and this scholarship is a push forward to help me grow as a person. It is going to help me in college to make friends. Also, financially this definitely helps my family a lot because college is pretty expensive so it really helps,” Muhamad said.

Varsity boys basketball coach Donald Burgess has been close to Muhamad for the past four years, as Muhamad has been his teacher assistant, along with managing the basketball team for two years. Burgess has seen Muhamad evolve over the past years and believes he is very deserving of the scholarship.

“Pana is such a loyal person to HHS, his family and to our boys basketball program. He possesses tons of enthusiasm and such a positive attitude that is contagious to all that he encounters. He is always willing to help others in a time of need or if they have any questions.  He is a genuine person who is very confident in his abilities but is such a humble person which is why he earns the respect of students and adults,” Burgess said. “I am so proud of Pana… he has evolved into a positive ambassador for HHS, his family, and the community. I have seen Pana first hand be a role model for HHS and the community in many ways such as reading to Kindergarten students, becoming a student assistant coach with the basketball team, and now earning a full scholarship to JMU. He is well deserving of this honor. He has worked extremely hard to be an exceptional student while still being humble. “

Using the scholarship and the opportunities it provides, Muhamad plans to pursue a career in computer science in college and then become successful after that.

“I am planning on studying computer science and majoring in that for four years. Hopefully after college I can become a computer programmer for a company or even have my own company. With computer science the opportunities are insane because you can create so much and it can be applied to so many things,” Muhamad said.

Muhamad believes that the scholarship will be extremely beneficial and help him have a successful college career.  

“The scholarship will impact my college career very much. It’ll grant me an opportunity to make friends right off the start. The study hall and graduate assistance that they provide will help me with my academic, social, and professional life which is also a main goal of the program,” Muhamad said.

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