From left: Malek Habayeb, Eilin Francis and Lubna Sharab
Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) will graduate 43 students, comprising 27 men and 16 women representing a total of 27 countries, on Saturday (May 11) at Qatar National Convention Centre.
They will join the 125 graduates who have already walked in the commencement ceremonies since the branch campus was established in Qatar Foundation’s Education City in 2005.
Currently offering a four-year liberal arts curriculum with majors in International Politics, International Economics and Culture & Politics, GU-Q has seen steady annual increases in the number of students seeking the same competitive degree offered at the home campus in Washington DC.
“In the Class of 2013 you will find so many excellent individuals who embody the core values of Georgetown, including academic excellence, ‘Women and Men for Others,’ and contemplation in action,” GU-Q dean Dr Gerd Nonneman said yesterday.
Four years of intense and rigorous academic studies was not the hardest part for some students. Palestinian Malek A Habayeb, graduating with a degree in International Politics and a Certificate in Arab and Regional studies, recalled he faced a lot of challenges upon deciding to attend a liberal arts university.
“My family and my friends were worried about my financial stability after graduation.”
But for Habayeb, things changed dramatically in his first year of study. “In my Freshman year I travelled to China with the Community Engagement Programme and joined the HELP programme teaching English to Education City service staff. Through the programmes and the course materials, my parents quickly began seeing the value of my education decision.”
Habayeb will be awarded the coveted Lena Landegger Community Service Award, given out to only 20 students from both the Washington DC campus and Doha campuses.
But for some students, like Haya A al-Thani, the choice of a liberal arts degree was a no-brainer. “I had decided that I wanted to be a lawyer, and I was told that a prerequisite for law school was International Politics, so I chose it as my major at Georgetown.”
Four years later, however, Haya has changed her plans for the future. “The way the professors taught the courses, the materials they covered - they awakened a real love of politics and policy making in me. Now, I hope to go to graduate school and focus on education policy in Qatar. Georgetown taught me about the world, and now I want to take what I’ve learned, and focus on our local history, and our local culture.”
Despite her many accomplishments, Haya’s words of praise are reserved for the faculty. “The amount of work professors and faculty put into these projects and conferences, was tremendous, and all without personal credit for themselves. I think this was the most surprising thing about this university. It is a community, first and foremost.”
Many future students make their first contact with Georgetown in high school, through the Model United Nations (MUN) programme that has been a longstanding tradition of the university since 1918. AlJawhara Hassan al-Thani, a senior graduating with a degree in Culture and Politics, was one of them.
“As a high school student attending Georgetown’s MUN conferences, I knew that that was where I wanted to join.” And later, as a Georgetown student, she continued to mentor high school, taking part in the MUN conferences for all four years.
But she cites her participation in the Zones of Conflict, Zones of Peace programme, which sends students to regions that have experienced tremendous turmoil and genocide, as providing the defining moment of her education.
Eilin Francis, who began her Georgetown career with one interest, and later discovered another, has decided to combine the two, rather than sacrificing one.
“In high school I knew I wanted to work with international NGOs or have a career in diplomacy. Georgetown provided me with an education to pursue either. Once at Georgetown I found I really enjoyed economics. So, I will pursue a graduate degree in economics.”
She got a head start in her interest to work with non-government agencies, with her dedication to the One World Youth Project, which partners with universities to empower college students as cross-cultural facilitators to promote global life skills needed to succeed in an interconnected world. Following training, she worked in local schools to lead in global learning and promoting cultural competency curriculum on a regular basis.
Most recently, Eilin, along with classmate AlJawhara Hassan al-Thani, was chosen as one of the six recipients of HBKU President’s Award this year. Both will also be graduating with honours.
International Politics senior Lubna Sharab believes she is equipped with the knowledge, experience and drive to take on challenges, meet new people and take on the issues that affect society.
For International Politics major Ghada al-Subaey, it is all about making a positive social impact. “The course work, the class topics, the internships and the programs I’ve taken part in have given me the critical thinking and writing skills I will need to succeed.”
While a sophomore, Ghada co-founded the Women’s Society and Development Club, with another senior student at Georgetown. “We have seen tremendous progress in our fundraising activities, research initiatives, and increasing student awareness and involvement.”