Hanifa Charaniya (Conyers) is a Clayton State University senior majoring in Dental Hygiene who will graduate this spring. She is the youngest of four daughters, one of whom, Raziya Charaniya, transferred to Clayton State University from another college to pursue her Bachelors of Science one semester before Hanifa started at Clayton State.
“She used to tell me how beautiful the campus was and how much she loved studying here because of the great faculty and staff and their focus on quality education,” says Hanifa. “I followed her thinking that I would transfer out sooner or later to some other university but I fell in love with Clayton State and stayed; and here I am graduating in just about four weeks!”
Raziya Charaniya is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Teaching with concentration in Mathematics at Clayton State. She will graduate from that program in the summer of 2012.
“I have been at Clayton State University since fall of 2006. I have seen Clayton State grow and achieve so many great things since I started here. They have graduate programs and the campus has expanded,” says Hanifa, who attended Druid Hills High School in Decatur for ninth and 10th grade, and graduated from Salem High School in Conyers.
However, she also admits that the Dental Hygiene program has been challenging.
“The Dental Hygiene program is very vigorous and is quite challenging,” she says. “It is difficult to get into the program because there are only two schools in Georgia that offer a bachelor’s in Dental Hygiene, and Clayton State is one of them. More than 150 students apply and only 28 get selected once a year. Getting that acceptance letter was a great feeling and it seemed as if I had accomplished the most difficult thing, only to find out later that it is more difficult to stay in the program than to get in.
“The classes are not easy. For the most part, there are on average three exams per week throughout the first year. I also like to stay involved in the community through voluntary service and I also hold a part-time job. Making time for all three, day in and day out, gets very challenging, especially when there is commitment involved. Staying focused, and prioritizing is the key to getting through the program while also being able to have a life outside of school.”
Hanifa says that her family has been her biggest supporters.
“My sisters and my mother supported me and encouraged me to continue to work hard,” she says. “Of course, I couldn't let my family down, so that inner motivation also helped me stay on track.”
Heavily involved, Hanifa previously served as a treasurer and then president for SANGAM, a Clayton State multicultural organization. She also worked as a resident assistant at Laker Hall for a year. Currently, she is a member of SADHA (Student American Dental Hygiene Association), and volunteers as a marketing advisor for the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board for the Southeast USA.
With very little free time Hanifa treats herself to a game of volleyball every now and then.
“I love playing volleyball, drawing and I enjoy doing outdoor activities,” she says. “Of course, with being in school full-time, doing community service and working, this is a challenge.
With graduation so near, Hanifa will begin preparing to take national and state board exams so that she can get licensed to work as a dental hygienist.
To future students of the Dental Hygiene program Hanifa says, “Set goals, stay focused, and work hard. Make sure to not only maintain a good overall GPA, but also a good math and science GPA. You can do it!”