Georgetown Graduates Face a Changed World with a Renewed Conviction for Change
College is one of the few things in life that ends with a new beginning, and for the GU-Q Class of 2022, that means a transition into a world that needs their critical thinking and research skills, cultural and political fluency, and dedication to serving others more than ever before.
Growing up in Doha, Aisha Al-Kuwari (SFS’22) always knew that college was part of the plan. “Higher education is a family value, but I realized I didn’t want to study just one thing for four years. I could still study law after earning an undergraduate degree at GU-Q, and that made up my mind.”
The multidisciplinary Culture and Politics major was the perfect fit, and Aisha achieved honors with a research paper on South Korean public memorialization of gendered violence that occurred during World War II. She also pursued a Certificate in Media and Politics (CMAP) offered in collaboration with Northwestern Qatar, winning Best Thesis among both schools for her work on the role of media and culture on pandemic responses in Qatar. “If I were studying in the U.S., these universities would have been in different states, and achieving this certificate, impossible.”
Aisha is now looking forward to pursuing a master’s degree in international law to challenge inequalities she sees in the international system. “The more I learned at GU-Q, the more I wanted to hold onto my own culture. So I want to work within the contours and framework of my own culture, to bring about positive change.”
International Politics major Hana Elshehaby also took advantage of QF’s multiversity vision to pursue a Certificate in Media and Politics, earning the Best E-Portfolio award for her outstanding thesis on domestic politics and independent filmmaking in post-revolution Egypt.
Hana’s introduction to GU-Q came through her participation in the university’s high school enrichment programs, then she became a mentor herself. “I was struck by the opportunity to study the politics of the Middle East in the same region that I wanted to study. And being able to share the story of my journey to prospective students was very rewarding.”
Rounding out her education through internships with Education Above All, ROTA, the Social & Economic Survey Research Institute at Qatar University, and the Middle East Council on Global Affairs helped Hana “to make sense of really complex matters that were vital to understanding the region and prospects for improvements” and “were integral to both shaping my experience as a university student and my growth as a scholar,” growth Hana intends to extend into graduate school.
For CULP major Iman Ismail, the challenge of completing a degree during a pandemic made her realize that “my comfort zone isn’t where I want to be, because it’s not conducive to my growth.” That driven focus earned her academic honors at graduation, and won her the top award in her major and recognition for her community engagement.
As the only visible Muslim student at a Christian high school, “I learned early on to advocate for myself, to answer questions, and to be diplomatic.” At Georgetown, Iman found a university that shared her values and supported her interest in faith-based action. She took on leadership roles in the Sustainability Club and the Amal Club for Disability Advocacy, and founded a branch of the Muslim Student Association, offering students support in Ramadan during the pandemic.
Working with a partner, Iman pursued an independent research project on the nexus between Islam, social media, and youth, and recently presented findings based on original survey data at the 12th International Conference on Religion & Spirituality in Society hosted by the University of Cordoba in Spain. “We found there are three primary ways Muslim youth use social media: dawah, to share the message of Islam, activism, and identity and community-building.”
With plans to continue her scholarship and advocacy, Iman says: “For me, success isn’t measured in temporal outcomes, and it might not be in our lifetime. But even if I’m not here to see the results, I can still be satisfied knowing I did what I could to bring about some positive change.”
The story of International Politics major and first-generation college student Rafael Zimmer is also one of resilience and hard work. “I had amazing teachers, but where I grew up, socioeconomics determine who goes to college.” Defying the odds, the promising Brazilian student-athlete gained admission to GU-Q, boarding his first international flight to come to Doha.
Facing a rigorous curriculum, Rafael turned to his athletic mindset and the unwavering support of his mother to succeed. “I knew I couldn’t let down Georgetown and the trust they put in me when they accepted me.” Rafael also played on the GU-Q football team, and co-founded various clubs, including the Latin American and Caribbean Society that created opportunities for diplomatic cultural exchange.
His efforts led to engagements with Brazilian officials in Qatar and back home, experiences that cemented his career focus. “Football helped me to become more performance based, so these engagements helped me see how I’d perform in the field of international relations.” Football will always be a part of his life, he said, as will his time at GU-Q.“ I made friends for life here. No matter where I go, those connections will stay with me.”
Starting with just 25 GU-Q students in 2005, this year the number of alumni at the QF partner university will surpass 700, with graduates representing more than 50 countries. Aisha, Hana, Iman, and Rafael now join a network of more than 200,000 total Georgetown alumni worldwide.