KGSP Alumni at Convocation
The KGSP hosted its annual Convocation in January, an academic symposium created to foster current student relations and collaboration with KAUST faculty and research programs. This year’s Convocation, the Program’s first in-person since January 2020, was held in Atlanta, Georgia and saw over 400 current KGSP students in attendance, as well as about 50 KAUST faculty and KGSP staff. Also noteworthy was the participation of three KGSP alumni, who were invited to speak on behalf of the KGSP Alumni Council at the Senior Commencement Ceremony, a chance to recognize the accomplishments of 2023 KGSP graduates.
Ahmed Albuwaydi received his M.S. in Chemical Engineering from KAUST and currently serves as President of the KGSP Alumni Council. Ghanima Abuhaimed obtained her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering also from KAUST and is a PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering at the University. And Latifah Almaghrabi, current senior advisor for the Alumni Council, also received her M.S. in Electrical Engineering from KAUST.
“Continuous participation in Convocations forms a channel of communication between alumni and students,” Ahmed noted of his attendance at the 2023 Convocation as an alum. “It also strengthens the students’ bond with the program and its community and creates a sense of relevance from the shared stories and memories.” Ahmed shared with current students his experiences in the Program, including his journey through obtaining his master’s degree and transitioning into his current profession as a Business Analyst at Kearney. During his last of two panel discussions at the event, Ahmed stressed the importance of networking and engaging with the KGSP community as a student, and an alum.
“It was important to me to give back to the KGSP community, and to promote how [the] KGSP and KAUST have opened so many doors of opportunity,” Ghanima said. “I think during the program the students, me included, tend to undersell ourselves. But honestly, [the] KGSP prepares you for life and that's the message I wanted to give back.” Ghanima, now Chief Executive Officer at Ghirass Eco-Technology, emphasized the cruciality of alumni engagement with current students as a means of fostering community and a lifeline of support in the transition to KAUST.
KGSP Alumni Lead Matthew Guckenberg said the presence and participation of alumni at Convocation provided current students exposure to the limitless possibilities of career advancement beyond the KGSP and KAUST. “Increasing Alumni participation is important to show current students what they can achieve after their undergraduate work,” Guckenberg said. “They provided a look at three different paths that a post undergraduate career can take: Private Sector Consulting work, Academia, and Entrepreneurship.”
On looking to the future, both Ahmed and Ghanima encouraged students to maintain resilience in academics, and to utilize all resources and support provided by the KGSP. “When it gets hard, don’t let your ego keep you from asking for help. It’s not wrong or bad, this is why the KGSP support system exists,” Ghanima said. “Finally, have fun and passion for the things you choose to do, and take the class you’re interested in even if your friends say it’s too hard.”
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.