Hudson County Community College Student Sarra Hayoune Earns National Scholarships and Commendation

Posted: 4/15/2019
Jennifer Christopher, 201-360-4061, jchristopher@hccc.edu

Ms. Hayoune is one of just 50 U.S. college students to be named to the Phi Theta Kappa Coca-Cola Academic Team as a Silver Scholarship recipient.

April 15, 2019, Jersey City, NJ – In her time as a Hudson County Community College (HCCC) student, Sarra Hayoune’s achievements may be described as astronomical, and that is not only because of her interest and studies in astrophysics.

Ms. Hayoune took her place on the stage at the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Centennial Convention in Orlando, Florida last week as one of just 50 students in the United States to be named a PTK Silver Scholar and a member of the 2019 All-USA Academic Team. She was selected for the honor from more than 2,000 applicants and will receive a $1,250 scholarship.

This is not the first honor she has earned since emigrating to the United States from Algeria and becoming an HCCC student. In 2018 she was named a Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholar. She has also been awarded Research & Development Council of New Jersey 2018 Merit Scholarship and Garden State S-STEM 2017 and 2018 Scholarships.

An Algerian immigrant and first-generation college student who speaks Arabic, French and English, Ms. Hayoune arrived in the United States in 2014. A short while after her arrival her son was born and her husband Aberdahim Salhi, who is also an HCCC student and the recipient of prestigious PTK scholarships, encouraged her to take ESL classes at the College. She subsequently set her sights on pursuing a degree in Computer Science and began her studies in 2016.

Ms. Hayoune used cosmological simulations to study supermassive black holes and developed a Python program to track and analyze their positions in dwarf galaxies. That project propelled her into a position as an Astrophysics Research intern at the American Museum of Natural History last summer and provided the opportunity to continue her research for the academic year. The unique experience also allowed Ms. Hayoune to present her findings at the Museum, at the 50th Anniversary of the Astronomical Society of New York, the 16th Annual Physical Sciences REU Student Symposium, and at Queensborough Community College where she was selected to participate in a 10-week National Science Foundation (NSF) research project.

Sarra also presented her research at the 10th Annual GS-LSAMP Research Conference in 2018 at Rutgers New Brunswick. At that conference, she was one of 22 presenters to receive the “Outstanding Poster” award. Last month she presented her research at the Scientista Symposium at Harvard University, and she also earned first place in the prepared speech competition at the Middle States Regional Convention.

In addition to devoting time to her family and studies, Ms. Hayoune made the Dean’s List throughout 2017 and 2018, has been a 2018 Fellow of America Needs You leadership program, and a participant in the 2017 and 2018 Goldman Sachs Local College Collaborative. She was a member of the National Tutoring Association and served as the President of the College’s STEM Club, and Vice President of the HCCC Chapter of PTK.

“All of the opportunities I have are the result of Hudson County Community College,” Ms. Hayoune stated. “The College means a lot to me; my professors and mentors have opened so many doors for me.”

Sarra’s dedication, persistence, and hard work have paid off. She will be awarded her degree in Computer Science from HCCC in May and will participate in an astrophysics research project at Princeton University this summer. She plans to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Astrophysics at Columbia University, Princeton University or Rutgers New Brunswick.

“Sarra is one of Hudson County Community College’s brightest and most accomplished students,” said HCCC President Dr. Chris Reber. “We congratulate her on all of her accomplishments and look forward to seeing her continue to achieve great things.”