Inspiring Graduate: Abdulaziz Basharaheel (’22)
- Hometown: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- Degree: B.S. Engineering Technology
- Minor: computer science
As an international student, Abdulaziz Basharaheel faced a language barrier and needed to adjust to a different educational culture while earning his bachelor’s in engineering technology at UW-Stout. But through hard work, Basharaheel crossed the commencement stage on Dec. 17.
“Abdulaziz is one of the most hard-working students I have had the privilege of teaching,” said Associate Professor Kenan Baltaci. “Being an international student is tough. Adjusting to a new culture, learning a new language and living far from family were challenging for him, but he persevered.
“Throughout the years, he consistently received high grades on his assignments and exams. He was always willing to ask questions in class to ensure he fully understood the material. He also frequently helped other students struggling with the concepts and experiments,” Baltaci added.
Basharaheel plans to start his career in a multinational company, but first “I am planning to take a break to travel with my family. At the same time, I will be looking for a job to gain experience. I have had multiple interviews already across the state,” he said.
He is also considering returning to school for his master’s degree.
How has Stout prepared you to work in your field?
The college experience absolutely has prepared me for my career. I felt I was taught useful information. In my junior and senior years, I took a series of courses on Electrical Instrumentation. I was intrigued. I contacted my adviser on how best to structure my remaining college education to enter that field upon graduation.
After a series of discussions and more in-depth checking about curricula and syllabuses, I added a minor in computer science to gain more knowledge in coding, electrical, electronics and math. This required a double session of summer school and carrying extra credit hours, but I was able to graduate with a B.S. and minor in five years.
I received the education I required to begin a rewarding career.
How has your Stout education and experience changed you?
The way I think has changed since I studied engineering. I learned how to analyze a problem and come up with a solution. It trained me to show my work and question my decisions at each step. Because of my studies, I became a better writer.
My university experience has made me a more experienced and open-minded person.
Dealing with new cultures and integrating into the society has helped me develop a diverse cultural mindset and to be open to listening to everyone’s ideas even if I do not have the same mindset.
What stands out about your Stout experience?
Aside from the obvious knowledge I gained, one wonderful completely unexpected experience was the diversity in the international community. Hands down.
Making new friends from different cultures and backgrounds will forever be my blessing. I’ve met a lot of students from all around the world.
It’s always nice to have people who are in a similar position but very different at the same time. I appreciate the friendships and acquaintances I’ve made. I’ve learned so much from and about these people, and I will cherish all the memories and knowledge forever.
How did your involvement at Stout impact your experience?
The Office of International Education told me about the Global Involvement Scholarship, which requires maintaining a 3.0 grade point average and completing 20 hours of volunteering each semester. I did my volunteering at UW-Stout with the International Club as an orientation leader for new international students and in the Menomonie community with Dunn County Humane Society and United Way of Dunn County.
Those experiences helped me to gain knowledge, overcome my fear of speaking with strangers and get out of my comfort zone.
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How did you overcome the challenges you faced in earning your degree?
English is not my first language, so I would say the language barrier was the most challenging part. Sometimes I had to put in twice the effort a native English speaker would put in, and that was draining and extremely frustrating. I can’t say I’ve completely overcome it, but by being persistent and not giving up I reached my goal, and I’m earning the degree I worked hard for.
During my studies, another problem that I faced was understanding the educational culture. For example, the mindset of the teachers is different than what was in my country. In the U.S. teachers are more open and conceptual. This was a whole new experience, and it was difficult to learn these things in the beginning. However, soon I realized what the differences are and tried to mitigate them by adaptation. Professors are friendlier in nature; in fact, they tend to be best friends and counselors at the same time.
What are you most proud of as you finish your degree?
The educational environment has helped me enter the professional field. I have learned about the expectations that other people have in this culture. It will help me to understand what my employer needs from me. As I finish my degree, I am proud of my education and learning, both explicit and implicit. However, the skills I developed during my degree are what I am most proud of.