“Life has immense possibilities; keep your door open, keep your eyes open, keep your ears open.”
To the many NJIT students, faculty, and alumni present in the ballroom on Wednesday March 12, these words struck home. They were spoken by an NJIT and Seton Hall alumnus, former trade school student, electrical engineer, lawyer, and judge, Sohail Mohammad. He is one person with myriad degrees, plaques, and certificates displaying the mosaic pieces of his academic, career, and life experiences.
Like many high school graduates, Mohammad was not absolutely certain what direction he wanted to take concerning a lifetime career. With this in mind, he spent a year studying applied mathematics and aeronautical sciences at trade school where he received hands-on experience working on space shuttles and fighter jets.
Upon graduating, Mohammad was accepted into NJIT’s Electrical engineering program, but little did he know that this period of his life was only a stepping stone to a grand adventure.
“Don’t discount your civic duties and volunteer acts; you never know where you’ll end up.” Truer words could not be spoken of Mohammad’s academic journey.
While Mohammad was a student at NJIT, he was called to serve as a juror for a one week trial. Fascinated and intrigued by the proceedings, he called in hopes to return so he could observe what goes on “behind the scenes” of the Municipal Courthouse hearings. He was accepted as an observer.
From what the judge saw in Mohammad each time he came to watch a hearing, there was no doubt that there was an incredible potential within him. After a long talk, Mohammad was convinced to go to law school.
Changing majors is not uncommon among college students. Drastic major changes can occur anytime in a person’s academic career and often result in school transfers as well. After graduating NJIT with a degree in Electrical engineering, Mohammad transferred to Seton Hall and graduated with a Master’s degree in Law. For the next 15 years, he was a privately practicing lawyer.
It can only take one day, one phone call, one person to change your life. One day, one man called Mohammad to represent him in court, fighting a speeding ticket. Agreeing to represent the man, Mohammad scrutinized over the details of the case and, amazingly, his Electrical engineering degree came to play an important role in this case.
Lawyer Mohammad was responsible for the first case in the entire world to challenge the technology behind the radar guns used to catch speeding cars. Because the technology was brand new, and was not scientifically proven to be accurate, Mohammad used this theory to test the radar gun and found the machinery to be quite faulty. According to the gun, buildings can move at 33 mph. Having a background in electrical engineering set a foundation for which Mohammad could stand upon and use to his client’s advantage, thus winning the case.
Another day that changed Mohammad’s life was the day a judge, the same judge he had observed at the beginning of his journey, called to say that he was retiring and insisted that Mohammad send him his resume so he could swear him in as a judge.
This is where Mohammad’s story ends for now, but tomorrow can bring new horizons out of the clear blue sky.
This story rings true when we are told that wherever life takes you does not necessarily mean that is where you will spend the rest of your life. Each life experience opens countless doors to opportunity. Which opportunities? Who knows; you’d better get out there and start exploring because no matter where you are now, you could end up somewhere new. You just need to be armed with commitment.