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Former BC3 ESL student seeks leadership post in steel industry

Khadija Akhouad works on her laptop at  BC3’s main campus
Khadija Akhouad, a student in Butler County Community College’s associate degree career program in business management, works on her laptop on BC3’s main campus in Butler Township on Nov. 9. Submitted Photo

Khadija Akhouad is ready to get back to work.

The Arabic- and French-speaking Moroccan seeks to return to steel industry leadership. She has progressed from Butler County Community College’s adult literacy courses in English as a second language to its business management career program to achieving a grade-point average high enough to enter the second of the college’s honor societies.

She left her position as a section head at ArcelorMittal Sonasid, a manufacturer of steel rods and bars in Casablanca, and moved to Seven Fields in July 2019 when her husband, Youssef Bachra, accepted a job as an automation engineer in Cranberry Woods.

The next month, Akhouad registered for an English as a second language beginners course offered by BC3’s adult literacy program and held at BC3 @ Cranberry.

Akhouad continued to ESL intermediate and to ESL advanced, and enrolled in BC3’s business management program. This fall, she became a member of the college’s Delta Kappa chapter of Kappa Beta Delta, an international honor society for business programs.

In the spring, she became a member of the college’s Rho Phi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, an international academic honor society for two-year colleges and programs.

New members of each honor society must have a grade-point average of at least 3.5.

Akhouad has achieved a grade-point average of at least 3.75 in her first two semesters at BC3 and has been named twice to the college’s president’s list.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in logistics management and integrated production from Clermont Auvergne University, Clermont-Ferrand, France; and a master’s degree in business management and administration from the National School of Commerce and Management in El Jadida, Morocco.

“Khadija didn’t feel confident getting out there in the business world because of the language barrier,” said Deborah Kane, a professor in BC3’s business and information technology division and adviser of Delta Kappa.

“I can’t imagine just walking into a new country and trying to demonstrate that experience in a new language,” said Dr. Josh Novak, BC3’s dean of students and primary adviser of Rho Phi.

The college’s English as a second language courses were, Akhouad said, “a turning point.”

“They played a crucial role in improving my academic confidence,” she said. “These courses significantly enhanced my English language skills and communication abilities … As a result, I was able to pursue a business management program with greater ease, feeling well prepared to succeed academically in an English-speaking environment.”

Akhouad, Novak said, is “truly a success story. She has been able to leverage what BC3 has to offer to take her extensive and substantial experience and turn that into something that she can repackage here in the United States and accomplish a new set of goals with a new language.”

Akhouad served as the section head at ArcelorMittal Sonasid for more than 17 years. She expects to graduate from BC3 in May.

“Khadija is taking classes here so that she can learn the business language and understand business in the United States,” Kane said. “She’s inspiring. She needs to get out there. She really belongs in the business world in the U.S. because she is more than ready.”

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