Ahmad Rizwan


Ahmad RizwanWalking Through Open Doors

Just as Ahmad Rizwan was graduating with honors from Culver City High School, the pandemic shut down college campuses across the country. Moving into a dorm only to attend classes online made no sense to Ahmad, so he turned down admission offers from several four-year colleges and enrolled at SMC.

“I think I made a good choice,” says the 21-year-old Corsair, who graduates today with an Associate degree in General Science. In the fall, he transfers to UC Irvine with a major in mechanical engineering.

A first-generation college student, Ahmad immigrated with his tight-knit family from Lahore, Pakistan, in 2012. His two older siblings also studied at SMC before transferring to four-year universities. His hard-working father supports the family as a laborer.

Looking back, Ahmad says, “I’m very glad that I came to SMC because of all the available resources. Everyone is very supportive, especially the counselors at STEM and EOPS —they really do guide you.”

The STEM program opened doors Ahmad did not know existed. It connected him with UCLA’s Community College Field Biology Alliance Program, where he was mentored by working scientists and produced his own independent research on the feeding behavior of mallards and seagulls.

The following year, Ahmad landed a coveted Station1 Frontiers Fellowship. The MIT-based program steeped him in the values of “socially directed science,” then placed him in a paid summer internship with the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization promoting green construction practices in the building trades.

Ahmad’s goal is to pursue a career in the sustainability, construction, or aerospace sector of engineering.