A family formula

For nearly two decades as a medical lab technician in his native Pakistan, Daniel Jacob developed a love for analyzing details and diagnosing samples. However, after moving to Louisiana in 2015, he worked in the tool rental business to support his wife and four daughters.

“In my rental business job, I noticed so many chemical plants with labs,” Jacob said. “I started thinking there may be opportunities to utilize previous skills to gain employment here. A friend recommended SOWELA as a great place to further my education and to prepare me for a career in the chemical labs.”

That recommendation led Jacob to enroll in SOWELA Technical Community College’s chemical laboratory technology program. The faculty and staff were supportive and encouraged him to apply for jobs in local chemical labs while in school due to his prior experience.

“In 2020, I applied at Rain Carbon and was selected for a laboratory position, but Covid paused all hiring, so I continued my studies,” Jacob said. “I commend SOWELA for their efforts during Covid because students could continue their studies without wasting time or money. After Hurricane Laura, we missed about a week and continued studies through Canvas,” the college’s online learning management system.

During this time, Jacob worked in retail while his wife also worked.

“It was a tough time, but SOWELA was wonderful and helpful the entire time,” he said.

Eventually, the hiring freeze ended, and Rain Carbon called him back and offered Jacob a position as a lab analyst at a much higher pay rate.

“My instructor said she would help me after I accepted the job,” Jacob said. “She recorded all lectures so I could continue attending school and finish my last semester. I would complete a 10-hour shift and then come home and listen to the lecture. I graduated in Spring 2021, and it was a big achievement.”

In the family

This experience led Jacob to encourage his daughter, Rohama Daniel, to enroll at SOWELA in the same program.

“Rohama saw my achievements and believed she could do that. We are very much alike. She’s very technical. We think the same way, and she has a curious mind. I suggested that she earn a technical degree to give herself opportunities to earn a good living.”

Today, Daniel is in her second year of the chemical laboratory program and plans to graduate next year. In addition, Jacob’s daughter, Kawish Daniel, graduated in 2023 from SOWELA’s culinary arts program and now works as a dietary aide, making a SOWELA degree a family tradition.

This article originally appeared in CC Daily.