Release Date: 
Sunday, October 1, 2023

HawkStrong: Tia Atoui named Outstanding Biology Student

Portrait of Tia Atoui.

The Henry Ford Village Herb Associates recently named Henry Ford Early College alumna Tia Atoui as the 2023 Outstanding Biology Student, awarding a certificate of achievement and $500.

“I am grateful to have won an award like this,” said Atoui, of Northville. “It acknowledges my hard work and inspires me to work harder to achieve even greater success.”

HFEC is a family tradition for the Atoui family

Born in Dearborn, Atoui is the youngest of four children and the only daughter. Her three brothers – Hadi, Abdou, and Hesham – are also HFEC and HFC alumni. Atoui graduated from HFEC and earned her associate degree in science in 2023 from HFC. She transferred to the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where she applied the $500 to her tuition. She aspires to became a physician.

"I have always been passionate about medicine and hope to get into medical school to pursue my dreams of becoming a pediatrician. I have always been inspired by helping others and making a difference in their lives,” she said.

HFEC is a partnership between HFC, Henry Ford Health, and the Dearborn Public Schools in coordination with Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) and the State Board of Education. Students enrolled in HFEC are able to simultaneously complete high school and earn a significant number of college credits. The program is offered at no cost to the student and begins in ninth grade. Graduates earn their high school diploma from HFEC and their associate degree from HFC.

“HFEC is dedicated to students who want to pursue a career in medicine or health care,” she said. “Throughout my last three years of the five-year HFEC program, I was enrolled in classes at the College and completed more than two years’ worth of college credits, giving me a jumpstart on my education and time to start completing my pre-med prerequisites.”

Captivated by the mechanics of biology

At a young age, Atoui always found herself captivated by the mechanics of biology and would question how things work.

“I would always be curious about the pathology of things, which sparked my interest to learn more. I have always had a desire to broaden my scientific knowledge about the world around us. The more I learn, the more I appreciate the dynamics and intricacies of the earth and everything that makes it up – from atoms to the human body as a whole. My interests lie in the physiology of our brain and body. So I am majoring in behavioral and biological sciences at UM-Dearborn, which will enable me to study how the natural and social sciences impact human and animal behavior,” she explained.

HFC biology instructor Dr. Jolie Stepaniak and HFC psychology instructor Alison Buchanan both had a positive impact on Atoui.

“Although microbiology is a tough class, Dr. Stepaniak made her classroom an environment easy to engage in and easy to grasp the challenging topics taught,” said Atoui. “Also, Alison Buchanan was my psychology professor for two semesters and left a memorable impression on me. Her passion for teaching pushed me to be a better student.”

“Tia is a phenomenal student!” said Buchanan. “She works very hard on her studies and is very dedicated to her academic and career goals. She did a fabulous job in her psychology courses. She very much deserves the Outstanding Biology Student award.”

Like Buchanan, Stepaniak is proud of her former student. Stepaniak nominated Atoui for Outstanding Biology Student.

"Tia is truly an exceptional student,” said Stepaniak. “She is incredibly bright and grasps new concepts quickly. Her critical thinking and synthesis skills are amazing. I know she will be successful in any area of study she pursues."

Strengthening her drive in science

Atoui is grateful for the education she received at HFC, calling it “phenomenal.”

“HFC has prepared me for my next step in academics by allowing me to earn more than two years of transferable credits and strengthen my drive in science and medicine with the endless science classes and labs it has to offer,” she said. “HFC has prepared me for my career by allowing me to gain a head start in taking my pre-med prerequisites. I was able to complete an associate degree, allowing me to gain a solid foundation in the sciences that prepares me for a future in medicine.”

She was impressed by how personable her instructors were at HFC and how they wanted her to succeed.

“The best part of attending HFC was the support it provides. The classes were smaller and the professors were able to pay more attention to their students, and truly address their needs,” said Atoui. “Teachers offer one-on-one time and the College itself provides several resources such as the Learning Lab, the Writing Center, tutors – anything to help us be successful durin and aftern our time at the College.”