A community college experience so rewarding that it becomes your profession!
Amman Seehra, who is now Assistant Director at the New Jersey Department of Human Services started his career as Assistant Professor at Mercer community college where he took his first class when he was just 10 years old.
Amman spends his time specializing in outreach across backgrounds through his work in various nonprofits including the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund as well as the nonprofit he started himself, ONE Project.
Let us hear from Amman about his rich community college journey, where he took classes of his choice at the age of 10, which led him to get into his dream law school, and later returned to the same college when he found himself giving back to the community as a Professor and choosing his own courses to teach for the next number of years!
Q: What has your journey been like as a student and professor at a community college?
A: I took my first class at my local community college, Mercer Community College when I was just 10 years old. It was a programming class in GW-BASIC and that was my very first exposure. I loved it. It was a growing-up experience for me too.
I was an elementary schooler going into middle school and it helped me see how classes were set up at such a young age. After that, I took classes over the summer and during the school year for the next number of years - trigonometry, a couple of math classes, and programming.
In my senior year, I convinced my high school to let me leave campus grounds and I took an ethics and psychology class. My experience at community college has always been fondly related to my childhood. I went to undergrad at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and law school at Rutgers-Camden.
“ When I graduated I knew that I wanted to teach, and I wanted to teach the community college crowd,” Amman says.
I had no idea how to start teaching but I created my own constitutional law class, set up a meeting with the dean, and came in saying “Hey, I want to teach this class.” Then, I started teaching, and this is the day after I took my BAR exam. I taught Law and Society for about 10 years and took on another class, American Political Systems.
“When I first started teaching, I was 24 years old and one of the things I loved was the wide variety in the classroom.”
I had a 17-year-old, a couple of students discharged from the military, people retired in their 60s, and some from my high school class. I wasn’t just teaching them, I learned a lot from my classes as well.
Q: What motivated you to become a community college professor?
A: I had options of teaching other places, but the community college experience of bringing people together is what drove me to teach there. When people take classes, get involved in community events, and just see all the people, you get that sense of community, purpose, that feeling of helping people find their direction.
Regardless if you have passed the age of 10, community college can most definitely be an invaluable resource for finding your purpose or even your future employer.
Q: What does life look like to you when you were teaching at Mercer community college?
A:I did a lot of volunteer work for a number of nonprofits, including the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund and we do law enforcement training. There is a police academy located near the community college so I still go there a couple of times a year to train new recruits, and I just love being on campus.
Most of my work has been related to preventing hate crimes and discrimination and a lot of the race issues that we’re seeing manifest nowadays. I’ve done a lot of events focused on unity and bringing people together.
I started a nonprofit called ONE Project that brings people from different backgrounds together to do community service. I’ve grown a little bit more political as I find that issues near and dear to my heart can’t all be solved through nonpolitical means.
I volunteered for the Biden-Harris campaign as I felt it is working on the issues I care about. I just want to use my skill sets constructively.
Amman’s journey helps us understand that community colleges are an invaluable resource that can provide you with life-changing opportunities and a clear path to your goals with maximum flexibility options.
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