44th Annual Commencement

Spotlight on Our

Muhabet Nazar

Associate in Arts Degree in Liberal Arts/Criminal Justice

Awards and Honors

  • Graduates with Highest Honors
  • Honors Program Graduate Award
  • Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society
  • Criminal Justice Graduate Achievement Award
  • Dean’s List (Spring 2014)

This Lawyer Who Enjoys Writing Stories Wants to Inspire Others With Her Own Story

“I want to inspire others with my story,” says Muhabet Nazar, who will receive her Associate in Arts Degree in Liberal Arts/Criminal Justice on May 19 at PCCC’s 44th Commencement. The Clifton resident graduates with highest honors only four years after arriving in this country with no knowledge of the English language.
In 2012, Muhabet left her home in Turkey, where she received her law degree from Dicle University in Diyarbakir and worked as a lawyer. She came to the U.S. with her father, who hoped to find new opportunities here and eventually send for the rest of the family which includes Muhabet’s mother, four brothers and one sister.

 “We came to Paterson, because there are many Turkish people here and we didn’t speak any English,” explained Muhabet, who speaks both Turkish and Kurdish, the language of the southeastern region of Turkey where she grew up.
The Turkish enclaves in Paterson offered a welcome support system to the new immigrants, but Muhabet noticed a downside to the ethnic neighborhoods. “Some people had been here 10 or 15 years and never tried to learn English,” she said. “I didn’t want that to be me.” 
Muhabet enrolled in PCCC to learn English and progressed rapidly. At the same time, her father grew increasing discontented. “He did not learn English well and felt he could not succeed here,” she said. 
He decided to return to Turkey and wanted his daughter to return with him, but Muhabet resisted. "I liked it here," she said. "I felt that I belonged here."  She also believed that as a woman, she would be "more disadvantaged" professionally in Turkey and limited by that society’s expectations for women. "I have a broader perspective and can express myself here," she said.
Though Muhabet’s father did not want to leave her in the U.S. on her own, fearful that his daughter would come under bad influences, she eventually convinced him to let her stay. 

Driven to succeed, Muhabet attended classes in the daytime and worked the night shift, often past midnight, as a gas station cashier. “It was very hard,” she said, but life grew “a little easier” two years ago when Muhabet married her boyfriend, Ahmet Uyumaz, also an immigrant from Turkey. It was Ahmet who encouraged his new wife to continue her education at PCCC beyond language studies.
“Every day at PCCC, I learned something new,” said Muhabet.  “PCCC is a very serious institution, and if students are willing to work hard, they will succeed.” 
Muhabet carried a heavy course load to complete her degree in only three semesters instead of the customary four. She also was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and won the 2016 Criminal Justice Graduate Achievement Award. 
She expressed deep appreciation for criminal justice professor Michael Walker. "My life was changed with his class," she said. "Professor Walker was always available to his students and very helpful to me. He’s the one who referred me to PTK," she said.
English professor Alexandra Della Fera also merits praise. “She made me like writing,” said Muhabet who enjoys writing stories about her experiences and the people she meets. “Now I want to inspire others with my story,” she said.

Muhabet plans to spend the summer studying for the LSAT in October and hopes to continue on to law school at Columbia, NYU, or Seton Hall with a focus on Business and International Trade Law.   “I would like to be admitted to the bar in New Jersey,” she said. “There are not many Turkish lawyers in the state.”She also hopes to visit family in Turkey this summer.  Each of her parents recently lost a brother and will be unable to attend her graduation this week. “They are very proud of me, though” said Muhabet. 
Despite all her accomplishments, the honor student’s thirst for knowledge is unquenched.  ‘I want to learn everything,” says Muhabet.  “Ever since I was a child, I wondered about how things work. What makes societies the way they are. Why some people are disadvantaged.” 
Recognizing the good she can do as a multilingual attorney in a diverse city like Paterson, Muhabet was pleased.  “I like solving people’s problems,” she said. “That makes me happy.”