Grossmont College student Elham Ryland’s favorite quote comes from the late South African leader Nelson Mandela. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
It has, in fact, become her mantra.
An immigrant from Ghana who has had more than her share of challenges in her 28 years, Ryland rises daily before dawn and embarks on a two-hour journey via public transit to reach Grossmont College, where she works two jobs and takes a full course of classes.
It hasn’t stopped her from succeeding.
Elham has a 4.0 grade point average while tackling two majors, in business administration and business management. Along the way, Elham has made the Dean’s List, the Vice President’s List and the President’s List at Grossmont College. She plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from San Diego State University before either transferring to a master’s program or working as a CPA.
Ryland’s determination resulted in her being granted the prestigious Griffin Award of Excellence Scholarship during a ceremony on Saturday. The $1,000 award is sponsored by the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges and is presented to a continuing full-time student who has a minimum GPA of 3.5 and a record of service to the school.
Ryland’s service to the college includes volunteering to take notes for disabled students, serving as a mentor and leading tours of the campus. She recently gave her time to help out the East County Economic Development Corporation’s 30th anniversary celebration.
“I feel this is a small price to pay for the school that is giving me the opportunity to achieve my goals,” she said.
Ryland’s positive attitude has left a lasting impression on those with whom she comes into contact.
“Elham is an exceptional student, and I am continuously impressed with her ability to balance academic excellence with community involvement,” said Victoria Kerba Miller, Grossmont College’s associate dean for student affairs. “She exemplifies serving as a scholar and citizen of Grossmont College. She truly cares about her community and makes a conscious effort to welcome students to the campus through her work in the Office of Student Affairs and as a college ambassador.”
Ryland said she enrolled at Grossmont after researching community colleges in the area. “I went to visit the campus and I felt right away that this is where I wanted to be.”
That was in the spring of 2013. At first, she didn’t have any specific educational goals in mind. “Then I took a class in accounting and one in business and I thought, `Wow, I actually like this!’”
Ryland said Grossmont College is family.
“I have gotten all the support I could have ever hoped for from Grossmont College,” she said. “I’ve met some wonderful people. It has brought out the best in me. It’s my home.”
Added Ryland: “An education is so important, and community colleges make education accessible. And there is none better than Grossmont.”