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International students celebrate hard-earned degrees

January 8, 2013

Graduating international students earlier this month gathered at McGregor Memorial Conference Center to fete their accomplishments and say goodbye to Wayne State and one another.

At a Dec. 6 reception hosted by the Office of International Programs, graduates talked eagerly about their unfolding future and wistfully about leaving the university that has been their home. They also received well-deserved praise for surmounting language, cultural and bureaucratic barriers to achieve their goals. Kelli Dixon, director of Study Abroad & Global Programs, called the afternoon “a beautiful time to look back and reflect.”
 
“You did what you were supposed to do: you earned your degree,” Dixon told the graduates. “Now you’re on to bigger and better things. Keep in touch, and remain engaged with the university.”
 
Ty Stevenson, executive director of alumni relations, reminded graduates that distance will not diminish their place in a “special family.”
“You share a common bond,” Stevenson told the room. “Wayne State has shaped you as people and as professionals.”
 
To all corners of the world
 
Among those uprooting themselves is Jordan Sinclair, who is leaving to conduct post-doctoral research in Japan after spending the past 10 years at Wayne State. Sinclair, a Canadian, earned a bachelor’s and master’s at Wayne in addition to her Ph.D. in biology.
 
“It’s been a great experience,” said Sinclair, who will be studying dioecious plants in Japan. “I love Wayne State, but I’m also excited for the next step in life.”
 
Ayman Mansour and Mohammad Obeidat both hail from Amman, Jordan, but met at Wayne State pursuing Ph.D.s in engineering. Both have landed assistant professor positions at Amman’s Tafila Technical University after successful academic careers at Wayne State. Mansour, a doctoral student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, won the Best Poster Award Competition at the 2012 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Southeastern Michigan Section Fall Conference held in November. He also placed second in the Best Student Paper Competition at the 2012 North American Fuzzy Information Processing Society Conference in August.
 
Obeidat, who earned his doctorate in electrical engineering, won the Best Poster Award during the 2012 IEEE Southeastern Michigan Section Spring Conference. He and his wife have enjoyed raising their three children in Michigan, he said, while Mansour said he was enriched by his experience with American teaching methodologies  and the university’s top-tier research tools. Mansour, who was honored this year with an award for student teaching, plans to blend American and Jordanian teaching techniques in the classroom back home.
 
Also in attendance were Hitchintan Kaur, a native of Chandigarh, India, who earned her Ph.D. in pharmacology from the School of Medicine, and Sharrukh Zaman, who came to Wayne State from Bangladesh to earn his master’s and Ph.D. in computer science. Kaur called her time at Wayne State, during which she worked as a graduate research assistant studying genetic indicators of breast cancer, “fulfilling.”
 
“I love the university,” she said. “I will miss the whole environment. Now I’m venturing out into the job market, and it will be a different world. I’ve been in academia so long!”
 
As for Zaman, he is heading to Madison, Wis., where he will work in development and research for a software company. The reality of leaving Wayne had sunk in the night before, he said, when he walked out of the classroom where he taught this semester.
 
“It was the same room where I had my first TA assignment in 2008,” he said. “My first room and my last room. That’s when it hit me.”