Driss' Comeback Story

In 2009, Driss Ouhdou left his homeland for Philadelphia. Thirteen years later, he is a college graduate with high hopes and aspirations. In May, he received his bachelor’s degree from Alvernia’s Philadelphia campus, with a major in criminal justice and a minor in addiction and mental health.

Not only has Ouhdou attended school, he has worked as a program director for a nonprofit organization that supports autistic youth. “As an immigrant, I have to work to support my family back in Morocco as well as my wife and myself here in Philadelphia,” he explained.

Ouhdou did attend college in Morocco, but he had to drop out due to the expenses. “The college was in a different city, so I had to rent an apartment and my family was paying for it, but it became too expensive, so I had to put everything on hold and drop out of college in my second year and start working as a professional painter to support the family.”

“I chose Alvernia because it was close to my house and I heard a lot of good things about the college from my wife’s family members,” he added. “Also, when I visited the university and met with Tracey Marino, the director of Alvernia’s Philadelphia campus, she spoke highly about the college, and it made me want to start school the following day.”

Driss and Tracey Marino
Driss visits former Philadelphia Campus Director and mentor Tracey Marino.

Marino, who retired this year, noted “Driss has always been highly motivated and hardworking, maintaining a positive attitude while working toward his educational achievements. He always enters the campus with a big smile on his face and is well-liked by all.”

She explained further that Alvernia University's Philadelphia campus programs are geared for adult learners. “Adult learners have very demanding schedules with work, family life and so many other day-to-day details that make going to school very difficult. Taking a combination of evening and day courses over several years, Driss working full time and looking after his family in Morocco has still found the time to keep his degree goals a reality. I am glad for the opportunity to be part of his journey.”

The university has helped Driss meet people who have shown him love and support throughout his entire college experience. “Both the teachers and the students were phenomenal. I am especially appreciative of Tracey who was the best advisor that anybody could ask for, and I had some great teachers.”

He plans to continue at Alvernia and obtain a master’s degree. He also hopes to be a role model for other students, especially those from outside of the country. “I would like for them to look at where I came from, and yet I was able to attend college even while working. It might take time, but there is a big reward in the end, and this reward will stay with you for the rest of your life. I do appreciate Alvernia giving me a chance to be a part of their journey.”

Driss created his comeback. Create Yours:


Story written by Leslie Feldman