NYUAD's First Graduating Class Looks Back

Before the members of NYU Abu Dhabi's Class of 2014 sat their last undergraduate exams, Salaam asked them to reflect on the past four years, first focusing on their acceptance to NYUAD. For Joshua Shirley, a double major in Philosophy and Political Science, coming to NYUAD meant "The opportunity to challenge myself in ways I had previously never imagined," he said. "It was an experience I knew would question every part of my identity and all that I thought I knew. I couldn't turn that challenge down."

Here's what a few of his classmates were most excited about:

I was excited about studying and living away from home in a place where I could expand my horizons and learn about the world from multiple perspectives. — Musbah Dilsebo, Ethiopia

I was most excited to spend the next four years with some of the brightest students from around the world. Very rarely do such deep cultural and academic learning experiences meet. — Jasmine Alexis Boutros, USA

Coming to a new country to study with some of the most talented students from all over the world. — Vivek Mukherjee, India

When I received my acceptance, I was honestly shocked and blown away. I had attended Candidate Weekend with an incredibly talented and diverse group of peers. It was the first time that I felt that perhaps I too had something to contribute to the world. — Zachary Stanley, USA

Broadening Horizons

The experience of NYUAD — of four years of intense course work, studying abroad, extracurricular activities, travel, and getting to know fellow students from 49 countries — has changed the members of the senior class and simultaneously prepared them for the future. While many spoke of now viewing the world from a broader perspective, others shared skills developed during their undergraduate careers. As Jasmine Alexis Boutros, an Economics major with a concentration in Natural Sciences, said, "NYUAD has given me a much broader perspective of the world we live in. I am much slower to judge new things now, and much more interested in understanding our differences."

NYUAD has also changed Boutros' classmates in the following ways:

I definitely approach conversations differently now. I see the world from a different perspective, one that has been influenced by each and every person I have met. I can see how my view of the world has grown and become so much richer and nuanced. — Zachary Stanley, USA

I learned to appreciate different cultures and lifestyles. I became more tolerant to people from differing backgrounds. I realized that I grew up in a bubble and it was not very helpful in terms of challenging me and my ideas, or in helping me see different dimensions of life and the world we live in. No other school can offer this I believe. — Damla Gonullu, Turkey

Apart from developing my intellectual capacity, I have become a globalized person. — Musbah Dilsebo, Ethiopia

I have become much more self-aware, in many respects. I have also become much more versatile, culturally, geographically, linguistically, and personally. I have encountered difference on a scale unlike any other, and engaged with it in my day-to-day life, changing the way I understand even those parts of my character that have not changed. — Joshua Shirley, Australia

I feel that my perspective of the world around me has vastly expanded. What seemed out of bounds before is now just a step away, and what seemed to be the world to me is now nothing more than a tiny hamlet. — Tamás Aujeszky, Hungary

The University has also prepared them for the future…

I vividly recollect the first day I came to the NYUAD campus. And now, after four years, I wish I could repeat it all over again. The options upon graduation are endless and make this world your oyster as I now unconditionally believe. I am glad I chose NYUAD where I grew from strength to strength and thereby feel equipped to meet any challenges that may lie ahead. — Shamma Sohail Faris Al Mazrui, UAE

I have learned that, no matter what endeavor I undertake, it is imperative that I "stay in the attempt.” It might appear platitudinous, but I have learned to be able to sit right there next to failure and push my body, and push my mind, and push my limitations because, in the end, nothing in this world matters unless you make it matter. If I don't become a neurosurgeon, no one will care — in fact, the world will be happier not having to deal with the trouble of training another aspiring healthcare professional. It is only when I turn around and show that my aspirations matter...only then will the world listen and respond in kind. — Clive Jude Miranda, India

When I take the next steps to becoming a compassionate doctor, I will know how to work with people from differing backgrounds. — Damla Gonullu, Turkey

NYUAD has developed my ability to analyze and synthesize facts, to develop my critical thinking, and to ask relevant questions to the world in which we live in. My responsibility is to use these skills to build my future. — Musbah Dilsebo, Ethiopia

The greatest challenge for me was to learn how to organize and stick to my schedule. Life at NYUAD is very busy and I often struggled with finding the time to do everything I wanted. The last four years at NYUAD have taught me how to be better organized, how to prioritize among different tasks, and how to balance my schedule. — Darina Gancheva, Bulgaria

What They'll Miss

When asked what they would miss most about NYUAD, the majority of the seniors Salaam spoke to had the same response: the people! "I will miss the students from around the world whose conversations — in classrooms, in dorms, and over the dinner table — have made this the most unique and unforgettable four years of my life," said Nicole Lopez Del Carril, a Social Research and Public Policy major. "We will never again have such diversity around us in opinions, experiences, and backgrounds and I am only beginning to realize how much I will miss that."

Del Carril's classmates echoed her sentiment:

The people. I will miss the tremendous personal support I have received from faculty, staff, and other students. — Xiaohua Liu, China

The convenience of living so closely with some of the best company! — Sahar Kazemini, Iran and Thailand

I will miss the challenge of living in such a diverse community and its subsequent opportunities for personal growth. — Harrison Tan, USA

The people! My friends and classmates, the faculty, and the staff. — Florencia Schlamp, Argentina

The idealistic nature of the school and the students. I don't know if I will ever be surrounded by this many incredible people again. — Damla Gonullu, Turkey

Definitely the people at NYUAD. — Vivek Mukherjee, India

Next Up…

Whether beginning graduate studies in the fall, interning, working, or taking some time to travel, the Class of 2014's members have some exciting plans ahead:

I will be working in Abu Dhabi in the field of strategic philanthropy. — Musbah Dilsebo, Ethiopia

I will be pursuing my Masters in Public Policy at Oxford's Blavatnik School of Government. — Shamma Sohail Faris Al Mazrui, UAE

I will be continuing studies at Columbia University to pursue a Masters in Higher and Postsecondary Education — Sahar Kazemini, Iran and Thailand

I'm taking a year off for work and travel before heading to the University of Pennsylvania. — Jessica Obidowski, Poland

I will be attending Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio. I will be part of its Hugo Grotius International Law Fellows program, in which I will work on international law projects and journals. I will be completing my JD and LLM degrees in three years. — Jasmine Alexis Boutros, USA

NYU Medical School is my next stop. — Leena Asfour, Palestine and USA

I will be working in Jordan with the Brookings Institution and Sustainability Excellence on education and women's rights policy in the Middle East. — Nicole Lopez Del Carril, Argentina and USA

I'll go home to Brazil, chill for a couple of months with my family, and then go to graduate school at Cornell University to get a Ph.D. in Biology. — Florencia Schlamp, Argentina

I am so excited to be joining the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine's Class of 2018. I will begin my studies in August of this year and can't wait to return to my home state and contribute to the community that helped me get to NYUAD. — Zachary Stanley, USA

I will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at NYUAD after taking courses at NYU School of Engineering. — Tamás Aujeszky, Hungary

I'll travel, relax, and then start medical school in Tel Aviv University's Sackler Program in mid-August. And I might also continue with the fertility research I started doing last summer for another month this summer if I can find funding. — Damla Gonullu, Turkey

I will work for the European Union Delegation in Washington, DC, and tour graduate school programs on the East Coast [of the US]. I want to apply to Ph.D. programs in Political Science this fall. — Darina Gancheva, Bulgaria

Words of Wisdom

The seniors Salaam spoke with seemed most eager to answer our last question: What advice do you have for the incoming freshman? Their words of wisdom varied from making the most of the NYUAD experience to trying new things. Here is some of the guidance they chose to share:

I have three pieces of advice for the incoming freshmen:

1. Do not fret about NYUAD's capacity to graduate students that end up in promising places. We have people in my class who have been admitted for postgraduate education at MIT, Columbia, Princeton, Oxford, and Harvard, and those who have received job offers from world-renowned global institutions such as McKinsey and Google.

2. I am sure I don't need to tell you to devote time and discipline to your studies because if you haven't been doing so, you most likely wouldn't have been admitted to NYUAD; but if I may give one tip, I will say do spend time with your professors. They can be wonderful mentors.

3. Make time for student life and participate in events around campus. There is much to enjoy and learn. Half of what I learned at NYUAD was outside of my classroom. Interpersonal skills are invaluable to success in the real world and you can really mostly develop them outside of class. Explore and meet the people, locals, and expatriates of the United Arab Emirates! — Shamma Sohail Faris Al Mazrui, UAE

Push yourself. There is so much NYUAD can offer. Try to make use of the wonderful resources and you will be amazed at your personal development when you build relationships, learn skills, and find new possibilities. — Xiaohua Liu, China

Every year is a different adventure. Enjoy every moment, every friendship, every travel experience, and every new lesson. Don't be afraid to change and try new things. There will be so much to look back at and, remember, it's all a part of growing up. — Sahar Kazemini, Iran and Thailand

Connect your education with generosity. You will find joy in your service to others. — Musbah Dilsebo, Ethiopia

Make the most of your time here. Talk to people. Learn from your classmates — they're some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. — Jasmine Alexis Boutros, USA

Make the most of the next four years, time will past faster than you imagine! — Jessica Obidowski, Poland

Take the initiative to develop your academic and professional path during undergrad. Otherwise you risk falling into the trap of doing things because you are "supposed to" or expecting someone to do things for you. If you do what you are passionate about and do it with excellence, sprinkle some persistence and pro-activeness, you can accomplish anything. — Leena Asfour, Palestine and USA

Everything is going to be ok! Just breathe, enjoy, and make the most out of these four years. — Florencia Schlamp, Argentina

Try to figure out exactly "where you are" among your community every time you move to a new environment. That is the baseline that everything starts from. — Haoran Liang, China

To the freshmen, NYUAD will be overwhelming — don't worry, just rejoice! — Harrison Tan, USA

Never stop trying to shape NYUAD and your own adventures while here. — Joshua Shirley, Australia

Try out different classes, different majors, and different careers. Learn a language or start your own club. Make friends with people from different countries. Travel in the region. College is the best time to explore and find out what you are passionate about. — Darina Gancheva, Bulgaria

It will be fine. Even if it feels very overwhelming at times, in the end it is always fine. — Damla Gonullu, Turkey