Georgetown Seniors Reflect on Four Years of Challenges and Change
With their last academic deadlines approaching, Georgetown University in Qatar’s (GU-Q) Class of 2017 is preparing for a traditional commencement ceremony and a future filled with possibilities. The next few weeks will be a flurry of graduation gowns, celebratory photos, and moments of reflection, as they are awarded their Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service degrees after four years at GU-Q.
Dana Al Anzy, Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Israa Wafaa Al-Kamali, and Mohammad Taimur Ali Ahmad are four students who will soon join the ranks of more than 340 GU-Q alumni, who are today involved in industries as diverse as energy, health, law, finance, media, and foreign affairs.
Al Anzy was one of the students who took advantage of Georgetown’s study abroad opportunities, spending a year at Georgetown’s Washington, D.C. campus in her junior year. While in the U.S., she interned for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, and attended the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York as a youth advocate for Education Above All.71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York as a youth advocate for Education Above All.
Furthermore, Al Anzy was also one of the first Qatari women to climb Kilimanjaro, as part of a team who summited the mountain to raise funds to improve the quality of education in Palestine. “I had so much support from Georgetown, and at that time there was so much audacity, to even venture on such a thing,” she said.
In addition to a BSFS degree majoring in culture and politics, Al-Thani is one of the students who will graduate with an additional Certificate in Arab and Regional Studies. As part of the certificate program, he submitted a thesis which focused on the historical narrative surrounding the ancient town of Zubarah. “Zubarah is gaining a lot of acclaim, and it’s getting more known by people, but it felt to me as though it could use a more thorough historical investigation to talk about its roots,” said Al-Thani. “I was able to come up with new sources; I managed to introduce oral history to the equation by interviewing local people. It was quite a rewarding experience.”
Al-Thani explained how professors he met at GU-Q changed his approach to learning and created an environment that encouraged critical thinking. “Nobody here tried to enforce an ideology on me. Nobody ever tried to tell me ‘This is true and this is not’. They just simply gave me tools and gave me things to read, and they told me ‘You get to choose by yourself’.”
Reflecting on her time at GU-Q, Al-Kamali explained how she confronted questions regarding culture, religion, politics, and society as a whole. “It has been an adventure,” she said, “I had a chance to make great friends, and meet amazing faculty, and read books I never thought I would read, and write about things I never thought I would write about, and change my views about things I never thought I would change my views about. A lot has changed – I’m a completely different person than I was in my freshman year.”
Al-Kamali hopes to work in the education sector in the future, and continue with the Student-to-Student Dialogue club as an advisor after graduation, to help the club start online classes for refugees who cannot attend formal lectures. “I think that everyone should have access to all kinds of knowledge,” she explained. “I think it’s our duty to share knowledge with other people, especially those who are out of school because of conflict.”
For Ahmad, GU-Q’s small campus size enabled him to interact closely with faculty members, as well as join societies and activities he may not have got involved with on a bigger campus. In addition to being the chair of the Honor Society, he co-founded the Georgetown Business Society, and was the chair of the Middle Eastern Studies Student Association (MESSA), which organizes an annual conference for undergraduate students to present their research on the Middle East.
“I think MESSA was one of my most memorable experiences this year, because of the fact that it was completely student-run,” explained Ahmad. “For me, to be able to see the event turn out the way it was, was very fulfilling.”
The students are part of the ninth group of seniors to graduate from GU-Q since the university opened its doors in Doha in 2005. Students graduate with the same internationally recognized BSFS degree as those on Georgetown’s Main Campus in Washington, D.C.