Sunday, June 18, 2006

Acknowledgin A Homegirl

Bismillah Arrahman AlRaheem: In the Name of Allah The Most Beneficient The Most Merciful

Greetings People,

In Arizona now, Mesa to be precise.. The weather is great and the area I'm in is beautiful.

I just wanted to share this with all of you, something that I enjoyed reading which is really how all Saudis should be thinking.

June 15, 2006

Saudi Arabian Super-Achiever to Deliver UCLA Student Commencement Address

A hard-charging political science major from Saudi Arabia has been selected to deliver the student address at the June 16 commencement exercises for UCLA's College of Letters and Science.

Manal Quota, an honor student with a distinguished record of political involvement and community service, will share the dais with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is scheduled to keynote the ceremony.

"Manal brought to UCLA an enormous spirit, and her accomplishments are extraordinary," said Marc Mayerson, assistant dean of social sciences and head of the speaker selection committee. "She is truly an international citizen and scholar. In her we see the best of our common cause and humanity."

Quota, 20, expressed surprise at her selection.

"I came out of the audition and called my friend saying, 'There was no way I got it,'" she said. "It was such a shock to be selected, and I'm just so honored."

The undergraduate, who grew up in Jeddah but has lived in Egypt, Bahrain and elsewhere in the United States and has traveled widely, said she plans to urge fellow students to embrace their role as citizens of the world.

"Americans tend to be much more interested in domestic affairs and not so aware of the issues going on in the rest of world," she said. "In the places I have been to, I have found that people are interested in the world around them, while also paying a close eye to domestic affairs."

The youngest child of an accounting professor and housewife who still live in Saudi Arabia, Quota transferred to UCLA as a junior from Santa Monica College, a community college where she studied political science and was active in extracurricular activities.

But it was at UCLA where Quota, who has been living with two older siblings in the Palms neighborhood of West Los Angeles, really hit her stride. She tutored a second-grader in Watts and worked with underprivileged children in Burbank. She joined another student activist in putting together a two-day exploration of human trafficking for 50 undergraduate-level students from universities across California. She interned with Amnesty International and volunteered with UNICEF. She also participated in Bruin Leaders Project, a student-run leadership training group on campus.

"UCLA is a great campus where so many students are willing to get involved and really give their time to great causes," she said. "Students at UCLA are really looking for a way to help and make a difference, and I have found that more here than anywhere else I have been."

Last month, Quota's efforts netted her a Chancellor's Service Award, a distinction given for exemplary community service. Recipients wear special regalia during graduation. She also received a certificate of special recognition from Rep. Brad Sherman, D-San Fernando Valley, a UCLA alumnus.

Quota, who hopes to attend graduate school after taking a year off to work, didn't let her service activities get in the way of making strides as a scholar and researcher. The political science major with a passion for African studies served for two quarters as a research assistant. One of the professors she helped even acknowledged her services in his recently published book. She served as a member of the editorial staff of Aleph, the campus journal for undergraduate research and wrote a scholarly article that appeared in an online undergraduate journal in the field of international relations. Last month, these efforts netted her the Vice Provost's Recognition Award for Undergraduate Research Participation.

During the summer and last fall, Quota served as a correspondent for Arab News, the Middle East's leading English-language daily. Quota was even part of the initial class of student-teachers who launched UCLA's Undergraduate Student Initiated Education Program. As part of the program, which prepares undergraduates to teach a one-unit course on a subject of their own selection, Quota taught eight UCLA undergraduates -- several of them fellow seniors -- a quarter-long course on the Rwanda genocide.

All the while, Quota never lost sight of her studies. Having participated in UCLA's Honors Collegium program, a more demanding educational track designed for especially ambitious undergraduates, she is graduating with honors.

Ultimately, the graduating senior whose name translates in Arabic as "striving for something and then getting it," hopes to study international development or international affairs at the graduate level with the ultimate goal of landing a position in a nongovernmental organization.

She traces her passion in world affairs and global economic justice back to a stint at an elite British high school in Egypt.

"In Saudi Arabia, I have a privileged life with a maid and chauffer -- there, that's normal," she said. "But in Cairo there was such a distinction between the wealthy and poor. You'd see mud shacks without glass in the windows and small rooms that would house a family of four or more. It really struck me as unfair and made me reexamine the life I was leading. That ultimately helped me figure out what I want to do with my life."

Graduation begins at 5 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion. It is the largest commencement ceremony on campus; approximately 2,900 students are expected to have degrees conferred at the ceremony, and an additional 12,000 guests are expected to attend.

Source: UCLA Office of Media Relations

California's largest university, UCLA enrolls approximately 38,000 students per year and offers degrees from the UCLA College of Letters and Science and 11 professional schools in dozens of varied disciplines. UCLA consistently ranks among the top five universities and colleges nationwide in total research-and-development spending, receiving more than $820 million a year in competitively awarded federal and state grants and contracts. For every $1 state taxpayers invest in UCLA, the university generates almost $9 in economic activity, resulting in an annual $6 billion economic impact on the Greater Los Angeles region. The university's health care network treats 450,000 patients per year. UCLA employs more than 27,000 faculty and staff, has more than 350,000 living alumni, and has been home to five Nobel Prize recipients.

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-YSH ;)


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