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Student Spotlight: Ridha Alkhabaz

Ridha Alkhabaz, a junior majoring in Mathematics at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), supplemented his academic experience this year through active participation in the UIUC Illini Statistics Club (ISC).  Ridha first learned about the club while attending Quad Day, a campus-wide student organization showcase and outreach event, during his sophomore year.   Ridha immediately recognized it as a valuable extracurricular activity in which to develop new skills and apply his knowledge of mathematics, statistics, and data science with like-minded peers at UIUC. 

Ridha’s eagerness to involve himself in ISC activities led to him become the President of the club. In this role, Ridha is responsible for organizing the ISC’s career development skill building events, social events, and datathons. “Through ISC activities, I enhanced both my technical and communication skills. For instance, as an executive member of ISC, I reach out to awesome companies to partner with ISC to create engaging datathons for students on campus,” said Ridha.  For last year’s Illini Datathon, Ridha obtained the sponsorship of Synchrony Financial, Citadel Securities, Procter & Gamble and Sandia National Laboratories! Due to his participation and accomplishments in the ISC, he is also noticing substantial improvements in his time and project management abilities, expressing that “the skills I am refining through my engagement in ISC will help me become a better graduate student in the future.”

“Throughout his time at UIUC, not only has Ridha demonstrated academic excellence and collaborated with his advisor to address and overcome challenges, but he has also sought opportunities to grow his professional and leadership profile through summer and academic year enrichment activities,” stated Emily Hagemeister, his KGSP Advisor. “Ridha’s drive and tenacity, along with his exemplary ability to connect and collaborate with others, have set him on a promising path toward achieving and exceeding the goals he has set for himself.”


KGSP students represent the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s future scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and thought-leaders. As both individuals and as a community, they reflect the KAUST mission of driving scientific discovery through excellence in education and cutting-edge research, and share a commitment to fostering innovation, economic development, and social prosperity throughout the Kingdom and the world.  


Selection to the KGSP is extremely competitive, and currently by invitation only. Successful applicants are Saudi Arabian students in their final year of high school who demonstrate impressive academic credentials within STEM fields, meaningful extra-curricular achievements, and who share the KAUST ethos of continuous discovery.  Learn more here.


The KGSP is administered by the Office of Strategic National Advancement at KAUST, under the direction of Vice President & Senior Associate to the President, Dr. Najah Ashry. Strategic National Advancement directs the university's strategy to serve Saudi Arabia's transformational priorities: Through initiatives in young talent and Saudi workforce development, social responsibility, and national engagement, the Office contributes to a thriving innovation ecosystem by building knowledge capacity, creating opportunities, and strengthening impact.