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Celebrating First-Generation Students: Zahraa Alomar

First-generation student Zahraa Alomar and her family went through great hardship to reach Boise from their home country. Now as a Biology major at Boise State working on the vertically integrated plasma medicine project and set to graduate when she is just 19 years old, Alomar is making her parents and family proud, something she sees as an obligation as the first person in her family to attend college.

Entering college can be daunting, so support is especially important for first-generation students to be successful. Thankfully, Alomar’s friends introduced her to the TRIO Rising Scholars program, and along with her mentor Ryan the program has helped Alomar make her accomplishments possible. “The TRIO community is like a family that pushes you and supports you during stressful times,” said Alomar. “Ryan helped me understand many things about college and gave me helpful advice.”

Meet Zahraa Alomar

Zahraa Alomar is achieving her dreams and making her family proud as a first-generation college student pursuing a degree in biology. At just 18 years old, Alomar is already a junior and involved in the plasma medicine project at Boise State. The project studies a device that produces cold atmospheric plasma, which kills and removes bacteria and biofilms from wounds, food, and food processing equipment.

Zahraa Alomar was born in Iraq during the war in 2002. Her family came to the United States as refugees after being forced to flee to Syria. The family left everything behind-jobs, family, their culture and  belongings so Alomar and her siblings could have a chance to live peacefully and thrive.

Alomar, currently an 18-year-old junior, has already achieved much success at Boise State as a first-generation student, a TRIO rising scholar and biology major, studying plasma and it’s effectiveness in killing bacteria and other germs.

“I am involved in the plasma medicine project with Dr. Ken Cornell and we are working to analyze a plasma device and its effectiveness to kill bacteria on agriculture and wounds for medical uses,” said Alomar. “Plasma is the fourth state of matter and is an ionized gas. The plasma generates reactive oxygen and nitrogen species that are responsible for the antibacterial effect. My team is working to analyze the specific gasses and reactive species that are generated from the plasma device and their concentrations.”

This research could have a positive impact in the field of medicine and the food industry and is funded by a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.

First-generation students like Alomar are being recognized November 9th – 13th during First-Generation College Celebration week. The Center for Multicultural Educational Opportunities, housed in the College of Education, includes a variety of programs that support first-generation college students.

Center for Multicultural Educational Opportunities