Hoda Kardoush

Hoda Kardoush, born in Cairo, Egypt in 1948. She obtained her education at The Sacred Heart Academy, where she attained her high school diploma in 1966. She was awarded a basketball scholarship to the American University of Cairo, but she only attended the first semester. In March 1967, Michael, a Palestinian born in Nazareth, and Hoda got married in Cairo. After a week of their wedding, they left for Germany where Michael had been working for an engineering firm for the previous five years. Hoda, not quite 19 years old at the time, found it to be a challenging experience, especially dealing with homesickness. It was her first time leaving her family and her country for a totally new world.

In August of 1967, they immigrated to Canada, seeking the New World and the opportunities it offers. They believed that newcomers could be integrated into society more easily than in Europe. Since Hoda only had a high school diploma, it was necessary for her to advance her skills to be able to work and help Michael with their living expenses. Following advice from a relative, she enrolled in a secretarial school for 9 months, where she learned shorthand and various secretarial skills. After graduation, she took a job at the Bank of Montreal in the Foreign Exchange Department. Her trilingual ability in Arabic, French, and English was helpful, and her monthly salary was $300 Canadian Dollars.

In 1968, an American engineering company called Ralph M. Parsons in Los Angeles offered Michael a job. Shortly after, they were granted immigration visas to the United States and had to move again in search of promising opportunities. Upon their arrival in February 1969, Michael started his job at RMP, and Hoda began working at the prestigious CPA firm Price Waterhouse as a Junior secretary in the tax department. She reported to three tax managers and earned $400 per month. It was a learning process for her, and she did not initially grasp the magnitude of the position or the firm's importance. Price Waterhouse was the official CPA firm that tabulated the votes for the Academy Awards, and her managers were responsible for handling the tax accounts of several Hollywood names such as Jack Benny, Alfred Hitchcock, and Tony Curtis. Part of her responsibilities included counting the votes for the Academy, although she was not aware of the importance and glamour of such a task until a few years later when she watched the Awards on TV. However, after working for one year at PW, she had to quit working since she was expecting their first son, Mark.

Michael's technological knowledge and Middle Eastern background presented an opportunity for him to become a private consultant in oil and gas exploration in their part of the world. However, it meant they had to move again, this time to Houston, Texas. In 1974, they left California for Texas with their two boys, Mark and Paul, ages 4 and 3. For the next ten years, Hoda focused on being a mom to their two very active boys, who were involved in soccer and swimming. It was not an easy task since they had no immediate family to help, especially since Michael was often absent for weeks at a time to provide a decent life for their family. Whenever time permitted, Hoda enrolled at the Houston Community College and took a few courses here and there. She was determined to obtain her college degree one day.

In the early '90s, their boys headed to college, with Mark studying Business at the University of Texas and Paul being accepted at Boston University for a Human Physiology Degree. With more time on her hands, Hoda got involved in serving the community. In 1995, she joined a group of visionary leaders and became involved in the ACC project, serving as a board member and Vice-President to Dr. Abdel Kader Fustok in 1996/97. Furthermore, she chaired the first ACC gala, which was attended by over 900 people, and secured the first seed money for the ACC. In 2000/2001, under the presidency of Mr. Mohammed Salhoot, she was assigned to organize the grand opening of the ACC, which was a very daunting endeavor but turned out to be a citywide celebration and very successful.

In 2000, Hoda had accumulated enough credits to apply as a junior at Houston Baptist University, finally fulfilling her dream and passion to obtain a college education. At first, she was apprehensive about how she would be perceived by the young students, as she was 52 years old, almost their mothers' age, and had to adjust to a whole new educational system. However, to her surprise, the students rallied around her and were very supportive and helpful. In 2004, she graduated with a double major in Psychology and Sociology, proudly walking with a BA in both majors. She admits that those were the best years of her life and wishes she had completed her college education earlier, as she would have spent her career in the academic world. However, she was not satisfied and wanted to obtain her master's degree before turning 60 years old. For the next four years, she enrolled again at HBU and worked towards a master's degree in liberal arts (MLA), and she walked with pride two weeks prior to her 60th birthday.

Hoda believes that education is a special gift to oneself that no one can take away, and she cherishes it, walking tall with pride.