In addition to a well-grounded education, Mohammed Abunada credits Moraine Valley with giving him invaluable advice, a new-found confidence, solid structure and a comfortable environment.

“I chose to go to Moraine Valley because it was local,” said Abunada, who grew up in the Palos area. “I’m a mama’s boy and I wanted to stay close to home. We don’t always know who we are when we graduate high school and I think college gives us the opportunity to find ourselves.”

He did, in a sense, find himself at Moraine Valley, in part to his belief Moraine Valley was his best choice.

“Going to Moraine Valley really exposed me to so much. It’s very diverse,” said Abunada, who graduated in 2001. “And the counselors—they were so on their game. They gave me great advice and I followed it. I also learned to be structured. I paid for my own education and that put a fire under me. I didn’t want to not do well in class and have to pay for it again.”

Self-assurance for Abunada grew in his first two years of college.

“Moraine Valley gave me the confidence to talk to my instructors. The class sizes were small enough to do that there and then I had the confidence to talk to my instructors when I transferred. I was able to focus on school more because I was comfortable at Moraine Valley. The classes were smaller so I didn’t feel so overwhelmed. I felt like it was home,” he said.

Abunada, who earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in finance at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2003, began working in the banking industry while a student in a work-study program at Stagg High School. He started as a teller at the Standard Bank in Orland Park and now is a senior vice president with First Midwest Bank, which merged with Standard Bank, specializing in health care lending for private practices in a five-state area in the Midwest.

“I oversee the financing for ground-up construction, build-out loans, whatever they need. It’s a little high pressured, but I love it,” he said.

It’s important for Abunada, who lives in Orland Park with his wife and two sons, to stay involved in the community. He’s active with the alumni group and scholarship selection committee at Moraine Valley, chairman of the scholarship committee at the Orland Park Prayer Center and was recently elected to a three-year term on the governing council at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

“There are many reasons why I volunteer,” he said. “I want to be a good role model for my two little boys and share with them everything I know. Slowly over the years as I have become more involved it made me realize you always have to give back.”