Feature Stories

She Received a Degree and an Engagement Ring on the Same Day: Graduation Day

Sally Allam received a diploma and a diamond ring on the same day, the day of her graduation from NJIT.

Sally Allam received a diploma and a diamond ring on the same day -- a day that was doubly blissful for her.

As NJIT’s Commencement drew to a close, Sally and the other newly-minted graduates exited the Prudential Center. To allow the grads to mingle freely with their families, the police cordoned off the streets around the Center. It had rained all morning but now the clouds broke and the sun shone. And then, like a rainbow, it happened.

In the middle of the street, Sally’s boyfriend took a knee, opened a small black box and offered her a diamond ring.

“I just want you to know that I love you and think you are perfect the way you are,” he said, his hopeful face upturned to hers “I just want to change one thing: Your last name.”

She at first said nothing. That’s because she was rendered speechless. But in a moment she recovered enough to utter one syllable: “Yes.” And then she qualified that syllable with two more: “Yes, of course.”

“I had no idea he’d propose to me,” said Sally.  “I was shocked and so was my family. It made be doubly happy to graduate from a great university and to get engaged to Ramy on the same day.”

When Sally met Ramy (Hanna) they were in seventh grade; both attended Midtown Community School in Bayonne and then went to Bayonne High School, where they became friends. Both were born in Egypt, so had that as a bond.  And by the time they were juniors that friendship had blossomed into a romance: They were boyfriend and girlfriend. After high school, she enrolled at NJIT to study civil engineering, while he enrolled at Rutgers to study Criminal Justice. They stayed together through college and now intend to spend the rest of their days together.

Along with planning a wedding, Sally has another thing in her life to be grateful for: a great job.  She works as a civil engineer for ENERCON, a firm that focuses on engineering, environmental and management services. Last summer, she worked as an intern for  the firm. She did so well on the internship that it offered her a full-time job, one she’s already started.

Ever since she was girl, Sally wanted to be a civil engineer. Every time her family drove over a bridge, she’d look out the window and marvel at the beauty of the bridge. ‘How could something so strong be so beautiful,’ she’d wonder. Her father also worked as a civil engineer in Egypt – the family came to the U.S. when she was 11 -- so it was in her genes.  

“Since I was little I always wanted to build a bridge,” says Sally. And at NJIT she had the chance to do precisely that. She was a member of the 2012 NJIT Steel Bridge team, where she helped design and build the team’s reduced-scale bridge. It took first place in last year’s regional steel bridge competition. That experience also helped her get the internship at ENERCON, whose recruiters she met at an NJIT Career Fair. The recruiters were impressed with her dedication to civil engineering but also with the  work she did on the steel bridge. So they hired her as an intern. And that internship launched her engineering career.  

Ramy, her fiancé, is a senior at Rutgers-Newark. He has one more semester to go before he completes a degree in criminal justice. And lately, everyone has the same question for him: Why did he propose to Sally on her graduation day? His reply is this:

“I wanted to wait until she finished college and also both our extended families were at graduation,” he said. “I wanted them to be there when I asked her. I love her with all my heart, of course, but I was nervous when I proposed to her.  I’m so happy she said yes. And now we are very excited to enter the next chapter of our lives together.”

By Robert Florida