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SAHE students visit Qatar for Young Professionals Institute

February 20, 2012

Nine School of Education students recently expanded their educational and travel horizons with a trip to the Qatar Young Professionals Institute in Doha, Qatar.

Part of SAHE program

The students, pursuing master’s degrees in Student Affairs in Higher Education, enrolled in a course called “Global Perspectives on Student Services and Student Affairs in Higher Education: A Field Experience in Qatar.” The course was taught jointly using Internet videoconferencing with the University of Maryland. CSU and University of Maryland graduate students and faculty spent two weeks exchanging ideas with Qatar Foundation hosts and higher education professionals, and experiencing Qatari cultural foundations.

“This critical initiative focuses on the importance of student learning and development as essential components of effective higher education. The Young Professionals Institute provides an important opportunity for students in Qatar to further themselves in their professional development process. We are pleased to cooperate with Colorado State University and the University of Maryland in offering this program,” remarked Dr. Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, President of Hamad bin Khalifa University and Vice President for Education at Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, as he welcomed the Qatar Young Professionals Institute to Doha. Dr. Al-Thani is a CSU alumnus where he received a Masters Degree in Engineering. He is also the Chair of the World Innovation Summit for Education.

Two of the hosts for the two-week field experience included CSU SAHE alumni, Dennis Roberts ’73 Assistant Vice President for Education (Faculty and Student Services) of the Qatar Foundation, and Jamil Karam ’03, Director of Student Life Qatar Foundation, located in Education City.

Working with educational professionals

The students’ trip began with the Qatar Cultural Foundations Study Tour, comprising visits to Souq Waqif, the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Islamic Art, as well as a briefing at Fanar Islamic Cultural Center, setting the stage for the discussions that took place at the YPI.

Placed in teams with educational professionals from Qatar, the students YPI Groups worked together during the fall semester and the second week of the field experience to explore topics of recruitment, admissions, retention, and international student needs, as well as student affairs as a career path in Qatar. Their inquiry discussions were presented to higher education professionals, faculty and students during the concluding YPI Symposium.

Jennifer Nival of CSU commented, “This experience has helped me expand my knowledge of higher education and student affairs globally. From the generous hospitality to the commitment to education, it has been a breath-taking experience.”

“I have been fascinated by the devotion of the Royal Family of Qatar to ensure the future of the nation through education, science, and the arts,” said University of Maryland participant Tiffane Chochran. “I have also been overwhelmed by the hospitality of the Qatar Foundation to ensure that our experience in Doha is a great one. This has truly been an unforgettable time.”

Enhancing student learning

The 2012 YPI plays an important role in building human capacity inside Qatar. Dennis Roberts stated, “Offering opportunities for Qatari and expatriate workers to engage with leading institutions in the United States will deepen their understanding of how to enhance student learning and is essential for the future of higher education in the Gulf.”

“There is no substitute to actually being there - seeing, engaging, learning, growing,” explains Oscar Felix, SAHE faculty member and executive director of the Access Center. “The Qatari experience has profoundly informed our practice, and that benefits the CSU community as well.”

Andrea Reeve, SAHE faculty and director of the Academic Advancement Center adds, “The collaborative nature of teaching the course with the University of Maryland and the joint planning and generous hosting by the Qatar Foundation Education City staff created a transformative professional experience for everyone involved in the Young Professionals Institute.”

Participating students, faculty and staff

Participating CSU students Amy Griggs, Alexis Hendrix, Brooks Hetle, Stefanie Lucas, Jennifer Nival, Brighitte Preciado, Marney Randle, Delma Ramos, and Kristal Sawatzke were accompanied by SAHE faculty Felix and Reeve, as well as course instructors Blanche Hughes, vice president for student affairs, and David McKelfresh, director of SAHE program and assessment for student affairs.

The School of Education is in the College of Applied Human Sciences.

Contact: Tracy Kile Schwartz
Phone: (970) 491-7525