Reem Hamodi loves to learn, but growing up with a sight impairment in Iraq, that wasn’t always easy. At CU Denver, though, Hamodi has pursued the kinds of learning she once could only dream of. From studying math to exploring psychology to holding a human brain – her university experience has been a step in a lifelong dedication to education.
Hamodi is graduating in the CU Denver Spring 2018 Commencement with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a near-4.0 grade point average. In 2011, Hamodi and her family arrived in the United States as refugees. She learned to be independent at the Colorado Center for the Blind and soon started her degree program.
“My philosophy is that blindness is a characteristic instead of a handicap,” Hamodi said. “It’s not blindness that defines you. You decide who you want to be. I encourage people to be optimistic and think about their possibilities.”
Realizing a lifelong passion for learning
Hamodi was born blind, after her mother had rubella during pregnancy. When she came to Colorado, she’d never used a computer before. In Iraq, her mother used to read and record written materials for her.
A chemical engineer, Hamodi’s mother has always played a strong role in her education. Hamodi’s mother was able to provide support for her, as she went from very little mathematical background to taking college algebra and statistics.
“I had some challenges before,” Hamodi said. “In my country, I wasn’t allowed to do math, but I came here and found out that I actually have to do math! And blind people can do it!”
Digging into her education
Throughout her degree, Hamodi made a point of remaining proactive. She reached out to the school’s Disability Resources and Services Office to learn about services and accessibility, and she always contacted her instructors before classes began. Some accommodations needed to be prepared in advance, but Hamodi was also genuinely excited.
She joined the Psi Chi Honor Society and thrived in the environment of education and learning. She even got to touch a human brain.
“My biological professor was showing my classmates the brain, and I was curious, so she let me touch it,” Hamodi said. “I was astonished to see what the brain of a human being looks like.”
Making future plans
“It’s not blindness that defines you. You decide who you want to be.”
Hamodi would like to pursue a master’s degree, as well as a PhD. Ultimately, she’d like to be a clinical psychologist, as well as an advocate for people with disabilities in the U.S. and underserved countries.
She hopes to inspire others to reach their true potential, and she never wants to leave the environment of learning and helpfulness that she loves. Even the concept of retirement holds no appeal – continuing to pursue her goals is her dream.
“My philosophy in life is to seek knowledge from birth until you die, so I really would love to pursue my education,” she said. “I just feel like I don’t want to stop.”