#MCCGrads2019: ‘Put yourself out there,’ this super-involved student says

Nabil Abas (center, at the recent Kids2College event) gives his time to help fellow students and prospective students learn about MCC. (Photos by Chris Meggs and Tim Engle/MCC)

Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley student Nabil Abas, 21, was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and says he owes his success to a sacrifice his parents made.

When he was 3 years old, they decided to immigrate to the United States. He says his parents never had the opportunity to attend college and faced a lot of setbacks. They moved to the United States to give their children access to the educational opportunities they never had. Abas speaks both English and Swahili.

Back story: Abas graduated high school from Frontier School of Excellence, a charter school in Kansas City. While there, Abas also completed a college readiness leadership program offered through Frontier.

Originally he didn’t think college was for him. But once he looked into it and chose Metropolitan Community College, he immersed himself in campus life. At Penn Valley, Abas is part of the prestigious Bloch Scholars program, which awards full scholarships to Penn Valley and then UMKC. He also joined MCC’s Project Success and Men of Character, Courage and Culture. He has been active in MCC LEADS and several student organizations. He likes to show people how volunteering can positively impact those around them.

Abas works as a part-time assistant in MCC-Penn Valley’s admissions office. He has also worked for Penn Valley’s counseling office. “I actually love giving students the opportunity to get the feel of the campus. I love meeting all the incoming students.”

MCC “has been my second home,” Abas says.

Best thing about attending MCC: Abas says it’s the community atmosphere. “You truly have staff, faculty and administrators in your corner who want to see you succeed. That just means the world to me. To me, MCC has been more than a community college. It has been my second home.”

Favorite instructor: Abas says MCC-Penn Valley reading instructor Millie Nottingham made a big impact on his life. She’s been a source of advice in many struggles he’s faced. He’ll never forget what she often tells her class: “Students who come prepared, ready to learn and are involved are the ones who get the job they’re looking for.”

Challenging moment: Abas says his biggest challenge is one many students face: balancing school and work. When he started college, he was a full-time student with two part-time jobs who also volunteered in the community. He says falling grades forced him to reassess his priorities.

Have gown, will graduate: “I am excited about commencement,” Abas says. “I have a lot of family coming because I will be the first in my family to get a college degree. It will be a very special goal I will be proud to have accomplished.” He will complete his associate in arts degree this summer.

Family tradition: Abas has a younger brother, Ali, who’s graduating high school in May and plans to attend MCC-Penn Valley this fall.

Next steps on the journey: Abas plans to attend the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the fall, pursuing a  bachelor’s degree in communication studies. He is considering a career in education.

Abas (here in a biology lab last semester) says it’s important for students to be active and involved in campus life.

Advice for other students: “Make connections and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there as soon as you step foot on campus! It’s important that we as students depend on each other. Find people with the same passion as you who are willing to encourage you along the way.”

MCC mentors: Abas counts as heroes Eric Thompson, interim dean of student development, and Terrell Tigner, former Penn Valley associate dean (now dean of students at MCC-Maple Woods). Abas says their help and mentoring helped shape his vision for the work he does on campus.

What others say: “Nabil is an amazing, involved student who will truly be missed as he transitions to UMKC,” says MCC Admissions Manager John Hudson. “His time spent in the admissions office at MCC-Penn Valley was invaluable to the team and the College as a whole.”