Fulbright Scholar, Huda Al-Hawaj, Talks Higher Education Administration
Huda Al-Hawaj comes from a small island in the Middle East named Kingdom of Bahrain. She is a Fulbright Scholar, graduate study, earning her Masters of Arts in Higher Education Administration & Student Affairs. Al-Hawaj is currently working as a graduate assistant in Activities in the LSU Campus Life office.
The Road to LSU
For her undergraduate degree, she started at the University of Delaware studying organizational and community leadership, but then transferred to Ahlia University in Bahrain, where she graduated with a degree in management and marketing. After graduating, she began working as a marketing and public relations officer. She often worked with interns. This is where she realized she enjoyed working with the interns more than her other job duties. So she thought that education would be a good fit for her.
Huda Al-Hawaj believes her experiences at LSU has been transformative and led her to become globally engaged. Being part of LSU gave Al-Hawaj the opportunity to learn more about not only the American culture but other cultures as well including her own.
“I made friendships with people from USA, Oman, UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and India. I served as an emcee for the International Fusion, which is an annual showcase of cultural performances by international students,” says Al-Hawaj.
The awareness of the higher education field that she got from being a student and a graduate assistant immediately made her think of the different ideas she can implement back home to elevate the level of the programs under student affairs.
“I am still learning about the field and I already have plans to introduce new concepts that are not typically applied in Bahrain such as promoting school traditions through Homecoming and other student activities. A year ago, I took a leap of faith and changed my career path from business to higher education and my experience at LSU so far made me confident that I made the right decision.”
My LSU Experience
Huda Al-Hawaj chose to attend LSU because of the university’s clear, genuine care for its students. She was very interested in learning more about the different programs LSU had that served the students’ needs. She was also drawn to Baton Rouge by the pure pride of the students and faculty. Al-Hawaj wanted to learn how LSU was able to easily spread its’ spirit.
“My best experience at LSU is being an advisor. The student leaders I have worked with planned an event to award the members of the organization. The students made an award for me that said, ‘Huda is mostly likely to be the most fabulous ruler of literally anything.’ It warmed my heart and made me feel that I have a good impact on these students. One time, one of my students gave me a hat that she heard me say I liked. She also sends me pictures of her puppy from time to time. It’s those things that motivate me to do my job and make me happy to be a part of LSU.”
Al-Hawaj believes LSU has definitely made her more confident about her ability to advise students. While being a student of higher education, she decided to become a graduate assistant and apply student development theories she learned in class, and she ultimately improved her skills as an advisor. She enjoys the level of awareness about student affairs that she has now as oppose to before joining the community.
“The best experience however, has been making friendships with people from different nationalities, and most importantly, making friends with Americans and participating in American celebrations. I enjoyed making conversations about cultural differences and similarities and how all that can be celebrated.”
The Impact of LSU Faculty
“Dr. Imre Emerec Csaszar is one of the best instructors I have ever had. He provides tremendous support and genuine care for the students.”
Through the Helping Skills class, he helped Al-Hawaj understand and apply the basic concepts of counseling students in higher education. She described his teaching style as enjoyable, interactive and informative. He helped her gain a stronger sense of confidence and supported her through her studies.
An Ideal Career
Huda Al-Hawaj plans to work on exchange programs that connect college students from her home country Bahrain with other countries around the world. She has been on two exchange programs including Fulbright, and she says these experiences have completely transformed her as a person by making her eager to travel more and experience the beauty of living in a world that has different cultures.
“I want other students to get that chance as well. In the long term, I plan to be a director of international relations at a higher education institution in Bahrain.”
The LSU School of Education (SOE) offers graduate and undergraduate programs in Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership and Research, and Counseling, including two completely online master’s programs. SOE offers a range of professional and academic degree programs that focus on preparing students for careers in education, research, policy formation and implementation, as well as program oversight. The School’s mission is to prepare P-12 educational professionals to be leaders, practitioners, and scholars knowledgeable in contemporary educational issues. SOE is part of the College of Human Sciences & Education.
The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The college is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, the School of Library & Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs, 18 graduate programs, and 7 online graduate degree and/or certificate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 1,120 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is committed to improving quality of life across the lifespan.