“I Thirst for Education:” Shirien Muntaser Named Tri-C Board Student Scholar

Olmsted Falls Resident Pens Poem to Share Her Love of the College

Shirien Muntaser, Tri-C Board Student Scholar

Shirien Muntaser, Tri-C Board Student Scholar

Words flooded Shirien Muntaser’s mind before flowing from pen to paper in poetic process. She wrote quickly, capturing the thoughts and ideas before they evaporated like the morning mist.

The prose reflects the creative rebirth she experienced at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®). It spoke of a new energy in her life.

In a desert of intellectual isolation,

I found an awakening sense of purpose;

a supple rose of knowledge bloomed into

cohesiveness of my mind, body and soul…

Muntaser, who will serve as Tri-C’s Board Student Scholar this academic year, shared the poem in September during her first College Board of Trustees meeting. She said she wrote and read it as a thank you.

“Tri-C is an oasis of learning,” said Muntaser, who lives in Olmsted Falls with her 16-year-old son, Ibrahim. “I thirst for education. That’s why I love this school so much.”

A long and winding road brought Muntaser to the College. Born in the Palestinian village of Beit Hanina, she immigrated to the United States at the age of 3 as her family left uncertainty to pursue the American Dream.

Her family found a home in New York City, where Muntaser blended into a melting pot of cultures in Brooklyn. Her neighbors included fellow Arabs, African Americans, Chinese, Greeks, Italians, Latinos and more.

“It was like a world village,” she said. “We taught each other. It was the most beautiful experience of my life.”

Muntaser moved to Northeast Ohio in 1990, married before graduating high school and started a family. Education remained important to her, so she earned her GED and found local learning experiences with her son.

As the years passed, her passion for knowledge only intensified.

So Muntaser enrolled at Tri-C in 2015 and immersed herself in her studies. She embraced the humanities and unlocked her inner poet. She took advantage of tutoring programs to maximize her learning. She joined the Peace Alliance at Western Campus.

“I felt stronger and more confident,” said Muntaser, who has been managing her own rental properties for more than a decade. “I felt enriched.”

That momentum carried over to other aspects of her life, too. Olmsted Falls appointed her to its Parks and Recreation Board. She took a leadership role with Cleveland Peace Action. She volunteered at the Islamic Center of Cleveland and Cleveland’s Norma Herr Women’s Center.

She’d do even more, too, if only the hours in the day allowed.

Tri-C Logo_RGBMuntaser is on track to earn an Associate of Arts and graduate from Tri-C in the spring. She’s currently dual enrolled with Cleveland State University, where she is working toward a bachelor’s degree in urban affairs. She also intends to pursue a master’s degree in public administration.

Her long-term goal is to work in the community promoting diversity. She hopes to do the same during her time as Board Student Scholar, where she’ll serve as a bridge between the College’s students and board of trustees.

“My story is just beginning,” Muntaser said. “There’s so much to do.”

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