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Texas A&M at Qatar presents leadership medal to HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani

His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, heir apparent of the State of Qatar, on Wednesday received the inaugural Texas A&M University at Qatar Medal for Leadership and was present for the graduation of 57 engineers at the University’s 2009 commencement ceremony.

The Medal for Leadership was established earlier this year to recognize distinguished, meritorious achievements and exceptional contributions to humanity in a variety of fields.

“We present this medal for his Highness Sheikh Tamim’s visionary leadership and advocacy of education in the State of Qatar,” said Dr. Mark H. Weichold, dean and CEO of Texas A&M at Qatar. “The medal is Texas A&M University at Qatar’s most prestigious honor,” he added.

His Highness Sheikh Tamim, accompanied by several government and ministry officials, and a delegation of 20 faculty and staff members from the University’s home campus in College Station, Texas, witnessed a significant milestone as the 100th diploma was awarded since the University opened a campus in Education City in 2003. Fifty-seven students, more than two-thirds of whom are Qataris, received diplomas for degrees in chemical, electrical, mechanical or petroleum engineering. Dr. Elsa Murano, president of Texas A&M University delivered the commencement keynote address.

Murano, during her commencement address, said graduates of Texas A&M at Qatar had embraced a new era of globalization. “You have shown the world that like Aggies everywhere, you are smart, hard working and eager to make your mark in the world, eager to change history,” she said. Murano added later: “As graduates of Texas A&M, you are now full participants in a rich intellectual heritage that began halfway around with the founding of our University in College Station.”

Weichold said the 100th graduate is a major milestone for the University’s Qatar campus. “These young engineers will lead a new generation of growth and prosperity in Qatar and the region,” he said. “We are quite proud of their accomplishments and we look forward to watching them succeed in their professional lives.”

Weichold noted that this year’s graduating class is particularly diverse. This year’s class includes 13 chemical engineers, 15 electrical engineers, seven mechanical engineers and 22 petroleum engineers. Thirty-nine of the graduates are Qataris, and 18 hail from 10 other countries. Almost one-third of graduates are women.

Mais Taha, a Qatari petroleum engineering major who will go to work at Shell after graduating this week, said her university career has been full of exciting challenges. “Texas A&M at Qatar helped shape my future,” she said. Taha said she aspires to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School. “I’ve learned important lessons inside and outside the classroom,” she said. “I learned how to deal with people, and I think that skill will always be useful.”

Taha said she is excited to begin her professional career, but that she will always cherish her student days. She said her best experience as a student was a recent trip to College Station, Texas, to visit the University’s home campus. “It made me expand my horizons and learn about different cultures,” she said. “It was an amazing experience.”

Karim Farhat, a chemical engineering major from Lebanon, said choosing to enroll at Texas A&M at Qatar was the best decision he ever made.

“Texas A&M at Qatar is more than a university. It is an oasis of opportunities,” he said. “My favorite part about my experience here was being able work in student and professional organizations do research, attend conferences and present papers, and meet influential people from all around the world, all while still attending classes and submitting homework.”

After graduation Farhat will attend graduate school in the energy resources engineering program at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., he said. “Texas A&M at Qatar offered me all that it takes to succeed in this endeavor,” Farhat said.

Abdulla AlKuwari, also a Qatari petroleum engineering major, said he enjoyed attending university in such a diverse environment — one that comprises students from 32 different countries. “I got the chance to meet people from all over the world — from different cultures, backgrounds, experiences and languages,” he said.

AlKuwari said he has lots of memories of being a student that he will never forget. And he has wisdom to share with future generations of engineering students at Texas A&M at Qatar: “My advice would be to not give up. Stay persistent,” he said. “You’re going to make it.”

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