KGSP Convocation Event

In January, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) hosted the annual KAUST Gifted Student Program (KGSP) Convocation in Orlando, Florida. The annual event united the KGSP’s student community with KAUST faculty and leadership, allowing students to learn more about the university’s latest projects and innovations, attend a range of training sessions, and provided a platform for interactions with the faculty within their future graduate study programs of interest.

Dr. Najah Ashry, Vice President of Saudi Affairs, welcomed attendees to the 2019 Convocation and introduced the filmed speech from Dr. Tony Chan, KAUST President.

Dr. Najah Ashry welcomes students and guests at the Convocation opening

Through the course of the event, KGSP students attended several faculty-led sessions including academic program breakout sessions, dynamic Sci-Cafes, a faculty research poster fair, and student mentoring meetings.   Individualized faculty mentorship of KGSP students is an especially important component of the Event, providing  academic and professional development guidance from top experts. .

“The one-on-one faculty meetings is crucial for junior and senior students to prepare for their master’s or Ph.D. program at KAUST,” said Abdullah Alabdulaaly, a senior majoring in chemical engineering at Purdue University. “At last year’s Convocation event, I met with Professor Jorge Gascon who became my mentor.  This past summer I had the opportunity to work with him as a research intern at KAUST. I now look forward to working closely with him next year as a KAUST graduate student!”

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Dr. Bernard Ghanem, KAUST Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, discusses his research with KGSP Students

David Keyes, Professor of Applied Mathematics and Computational Science and the Director of the Extreme Computing Research Center, gave a keynote speech that focused on the role of KAUST’s growing impact in the scientific community.

Students’ active involvement and contribution is key to the success of the Convocation event. The Student Steering committee developed new sessions and identified student presenters for the event.  Once breakout session in which students shared their experiences with peers was the extremely popular (standing room only!)  Ted Talk-styled presentation on “Balancing Work and Life.” was popular among students. One of the speakers, Bader Abdulmajeed, presented on his passion for photojournalism, which he successfully combines with his studies as a freshman studying computer science at University of Pittsburgh. Abdulmajeed also showcased his projects as an official photographer for the Pitt News, the daily student newspaper of the University of Pittsburgh.

“I encouraged KGSP students to be engaged on their campuses and communities,” said Abdulmajeed, adding “My KGSP advisor has been a great support in helping me finding a balance between my passion and my academics.”

The closing session of this year’s Convocation event recognized graduating seniors for their hard work and dedication to Program. Seniors Murtadha Al-Mallalah (University of Arizona) and Yasmeen Alfaraj (University of California, Berkeley) spoke about their experiences as KGSP students, the KGSP program impact on their success and hope for the future of KGSP and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


The closing session also recognized five students for their exceptional work in community leadership, presentations, and enrichment:

  • KGSP Community Leader Award: Lamis Siddiq (Sophomore, University of Maryland) and Omar Alrabiah (Sophomore, Carnegie Mellon)
  • Student Presenter Awards Bader Abdulmajeed (Freshman, University of Pittsburgh) and Fatimah Alshaikh (Sophomore, Brown University)
  • Enrichment Awards: Mohammed Alkharouby (Junior, Michigan State) and Fatimah Alshaikh (Sophomore, Brown University)

Dr. Najah Ashry, Vice President of Saudi Affairs, closed the Event with an inspiring speech that celebrated the accomplishments of the Program and continuous contribution of KGSP students to KAUST, Saudi Arabia, and World.

Motaz Aljadali, senior at Boston University, receives his KGSP graduation certificate. Motaz is the first KGSP graduate from Thuwal village.

Motaz Aljadali, senior at Boston University, receives his KGSP graduation certificate. Motaz is the first KGSP graduate from Thuwal village.

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Over 500 KGSP students, faculty, and staff attended the 2019 Convocation.