Excel Center Grad Pursues Doctorate of Pharmacy

    [fa icon="calendar"] Jun 27, 2023 2:15:00 PM / by Jenny Kakasuleff

    Jenny Kakasuleff


    Saja Abbas arrived in the U.S. in 2009 as a refugee. Born in Iraq, her family was forced to flee their home in 2006 to escape war. As a result, Saja missed out on attending middle school and high school. 

    In 2013, she saw a flier for The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s high school for adults. After discovering that the school offers classes for learning English, she jumped at the opportunity to enroll. 

    “I needed to improve my English to pass the U.S. citizenship test,” Saja said. “I couldn’t have imagined at the time how many doors The Excel Center would open for me.” 

    The staff at The Excel Center supported Saja through her unique struggles and provided her with access to resources she wouldn’t have otherwise had. For example, she was awarded a scholarship through Goodwill to help cover educational expenses.

    Saja enrolled with zero credits, but in less than three years, she earned her high school diploma and a pharmacy technician certification.

    “Math and science gave me confidence because it’s a universal language,” Saja explained. “The Excel Center showed me that I am capable of doing anything I set my mind to.”

    Saja went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and pre-pharmacy in 2020 from IUPUI. She is currently enrolled in the Doctorate of Pharmacy program at Purdue University with a speciality in nuclear pharmacy. She is expected to graduate in 2024 and aspires to do nothing less than change the world. 

    “I want to operate my own drug manufacturing company and create a new drug for treating cancer patients across the world,” Saja said.

    She also has some advice for anyone who is thinking about enrolling at The Excel Center:

    “Your path is going to be difficult regardless of which you take, so take the one that allows you to earn a living wage and a comfortable life.” 

    To learn more about The Excel Center or to enroll, visit excelcenter.org.

    Topics: Success Story, The Excel Center, Education, Language Barrier, McClelland Scholarship, refugee, Mission Awareness, Goodwill Education

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