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Student Flees War-torn Country, finds Support and New Life at LCC

August 11, 2015

LANSING, MICH. - When Abeer Ezz started at Lansing Community College (LCC) in 2012, she couldn't speak English very well and felt nervous about being in a new country. Today, she is surrounded by students who share similar stories, and who know what it's like to be the first in their family to attend college.

Ezz works as a student employee at TRiO—a federally-funded program that helps first-generation students from disadvantaged backgrounds navigate collegiate life. Although she is among 200 TRiO students at LCC, Ezz says the program always provides the individual attention she needs to help her succeed.

"Before TRiO, I was lost," says Ezz. "Then my professor told me about TRiO. The program set me in the right direction, and I feel comfortable and OK now. Before I didn't know what to do or who to ask when I needed help."

The now 24-year-old Ezz came to Lansing at age 19. She and her parents had fled Iraq during the Iraq War, settling for a while in Europe before immigrating to the United States to live with family.

Ezz originally came to LCC to learn English. As her confidence grew, she entered the accounting program and began working on an associate degree. While she was comfortable with the campus and small class sizes, Abeer still needed help understanding processes and programs, to ensure she was on course to transfer to a four-year university.

"When no one else in your family has gone to college they can't help you with questions-even when they mean well and want to," says Dayna Orellana, academic coordinator for TRiO. "At TRiO, we have the resources, professionals, and other students who can help and provide that support."

Ezz received tutoring and other support services through TRiO, and started working in the program's office as a student employee. Remembering her own experience, she is always quick to help other students who experience similar issues like she has-including her mother who recently enrolled in LCC's pharmacy technician program.

"TRiO gives students a place to connect with other students on campus," says Orellana. "Abeer has definitely found that here."

About Lansing Community College

Lansing Community College is Michigan's third largest community college with approximately 20,000 students attending each year. LCC offers courses in general education for those interested in transferring to a four-year institution, career and workforce development, developmental education and personal enrichment. To meet the professional development and training needs of regional employees, the college offers customized programs for credit, non-credit and continuing education. The University Center at LCC offers students the opportunity to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from six partner universities on the downtown LCC campus. For more information, visit

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