Q&A with student leader and PCC Board rep Hannah Alzgal of Tigard

Story by Taylor To. Photos by James Hill.

Hannah in the board room.

For Hannah Alzgal, attending classes and studying wasn’t enough to satisfy her educational experience. She wanted much more.

In 2017, Alzgal enrolled at Portland Community College after graduating from Tigard High School to study journalism and political science. Instead of going through the academic motions, she got involved with student government to champion her fellow students and their causes as director of communications for ASPCC. Now, Alzgal is serving as the student representative on the PCC Board of Directors for 2019-2020. 

Her contribution on the board is vital. Among the seven-member Board of Directors, Alzgal provides the student perspective. It’s critical because the college’s key goals are to advocate for increased support for student success initiatives district-wide. Her family originated from Palestine and they immigrated to Oregon from Jordan before she was born. Her background adds a critical cultural perspective to the college’s leadership.

We sat down with her to learn more about her and the student resources she champions. 

How did you find your way to PCC?

Alzgal: A university seemed really out of reach financially and it just didn’t seem like there was a community for me. PCC was seen as the second best option for everyone in my high school. So I thought this is what I settled for. That was, until I arrived at PCC and saw that this is a genuine representation of a true community and it’s education is on par with a four-year university.Hannah discusses her leadership style.

Where did you grow up?

Alzgal: I grew up here in Tigard, which has a white-majority population. I spent all of my life there and I have a great appreciation for this small community. I admire those diverse community members that make a huge difference because they recognize a need for representation. That’s why I love Tigard. 

What are your educational goals?

Alzgal: I want to finish up here at PCC and then attend a university to major in journalism and political science. I aspire to work in the field of political communications and for a political non-profit that gives a voice to marginalized communities. I also really want to stay in Oregon politics for a little bit before moving on to federal or international politics. 

What do you hope to accomplish in your position?

Alzgal: I hope that I’m able to organize students to help them understand how much power they can hold in their positions when they utilize their voice and to understand they are stewards of the activity fee

What do you want people to know about your position? 

Alzgal: My position is not anything without the students. It’s not my initiatives. It’s not my work. On student government, we operate solely on student interest. I want them to be aware of the resources that are available and feel that their welfare is being prioritized. 

Hannah poses in front of Board photos.What were some of your most impactful projects while serving in student government?

Alzgal: My most impactful projects in my year as director of communications was to create better awareness of the District Student Council (DSC) and the resources provided through the Student Life Office. I was able to do that by working with the college’s web team and others to update the website with more attention to student life and government.

How did you like working with other members of the DSC?

Alzgal: I loved seeing everyone’s work on the District Student Council. The directors of events and programs were able to create these huge events with hundreds of PCC students and community members getting together. It was a fantastic way, and the most direct way, to create community. The directors of legislative affairs engaged in multiple campaigns throughout the year to get students involved with civic engagement, such as registering them to vote, running issue-based campaigns, and lobbying for community college funding from the state legislature. The student body presidents worked together to thoughtfully consider budget situations in an equitable manner that sought input from as many PCC students as possible.

Thank you, Hannah!