Graduate student Abrar Al-Naseri discovers a home in Kansas while earning her engineering master’s degree
Thirty-year-old Abrar Al-Naseri is a 2019 KUEC graduate who earned a Master of Engineering Management degree. She has been a full-time student while working online as a process consultant with Nokia Iraq. She grew up in Basrah, Iraq with a family of six which included her parents, two brothers and a sister. She is a member of the KUFSA (Kansas University Fulbright Students Association) and IIAA (Iraqi Independent Alumni Association). According to her KUEC Academic Success Coach Parveen Mozaffar, the Fullbright is the most coveted and sought-after scholarship offered by the U.S. government. Discover how Al-Naseri made Overland Park and KUEC her new home and graduated with the highest honors!
Q: What is a typical day in your life like?
A: My day starts with a call to my family back home. Talking to my mom is my energy booster throughout the day. I then prepare a simple breakfast and have a short walk in a nearby park. I check emails and start studying directly, but through the day I have to do two things to consider the day is really productive: read a book I favor and take an online class to learn a software that can benefit me at work.
Q: What makes you the happiest?
A: Achieving the goals I’m continuously setting for myself is the reason behind my happiness and that includes small goals, like reading a book or attending an art performance, and the big goals, like earning my master’s degree and graduating with straight A’s.
Q: What motivates you?
A: Recognition in what I do, whether in the industry that I work in (telecom) or at the University where I study. Being recognized for the good efforts and for the change that I make makes me more motivated to do more!
Q: Why did you choose KUEC?
A: I had a dream of earning my master’s degree since I first graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. After working for four years, I realized that my master’s degree should be related to my career and later support my career growth. Working as a process consultant and before that as a technical support engineer led me to search for a degree that linked the engineering with management. My passion for operations management and quality management also made me search for the program that focuses on that and I found all of that at KUEC.
Q: How did KUEC meet your personal and/or academic needs?
A: KUEC’s technological utilization and flexibility attributes helped me achieve my academic goals swiftly. The easy access to classes and the easy communication with the faculty made the degree go swiftly and made me focus purely on my studies without having hard times in accessing the resources that I needed.
Q: How has your KUEC degree prepared you for the future?
A: I’m now more confident when I make a decision. I’m more equipped with the tools and methods that I learned and I’m able to apply in work. I now can compete in the market for the positions that I deserve to work in! And I’m confident of what I will need for further development.
Q: What was the most difficult part of earning your college degree and how did you overcome it?
A: When I applied first, I didn’t know where Kansas was, much less what KUEC would have for me! I came from a different continent, a different country, and knew no one here. Settling down was hard and getting used to the different academic manner was hard, too. I had help from my Academic Advisor Linda Miller that tried to address these problems to the Department. Later, the amazing program adviser Parveen Mozaffar was there to help me adjust socially. I also got to build an amazing network of people who are all students of the EMGT program and now after two years, Overland Park has become a home to me.
Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?
A: Through the program, I was many times recognized by the faculty. Some of them contacted me to use my delivered papers and projects as examples in future classes. Some of them contacted me to say that I was one of the best students they had in KUEC in many years. Currently, I’m graduating with straight A’s, so this is my first accomplishment since I enrolled as a full-time student in KUEC. Before that, I had a couple of personal and career accomplishments. One of them was being a member in the organizing committee of my hometown TEDx event and being a mentor through a U.S. Department of State program for senior graduate students to help them set foot in the business market they are targeting. Later, I got awarded the Fulbright scholarship, which is a very prestigious and competitive program, so being 1 out of less than 20 students out of the whole country (Iraq) was the last accomplishment before enrolling in the EMGT program.
Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at KUEC?
A: One of my favorite memories is the time I spent with my classmates (and now my friends) after the classes to sit and talk or discuss various topics - academic and non-academic. This was the flavor of every day I went to KUEC.
Q: What are your long-term career goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
A: A long-term plan is to be one of those who brings the change in the organizations I work in, now as a consultant but later as a C-level management professional. My plan started with the EMGT program at KUEC. And now, I will start with getting back to business to apply what I learned and climb the organizational ladder while gaining more experience until I’m achieving that goal. Although that is my personal goal, I’m planning to be one of those who mentor others to develop and grow, to inspire those who are searching for a path and guide those who are having hard times in their career path.
Q: What advice would you give others who are thinking of earning a degree, whether a first-time bachelor’s, a second bachelor’s or a master’s?
A: The first advice is to be confident and sure about the degree options and the school you apply to. The second is to be prepared with the right skills and tools for the academic challenges (like language, the presentation skills, the use of technology, and the basic knowledge about the major). The third is to use time properly for the degree to be fully prepared through the degree, to achieve the academic targets and learning objectives.