Alaa' Badokhon

What made you want to study at a US university and CWRU in particular?
Before I was guided here I worked at a famous car retails agency in my hometown as a Cisco Network Engineer. Even though I earned several awards and professional certificates, including the Man of the Year and a bronze medal in a Kaizen projects competition, after completing my first year there I still felt that I wanted to do more than just a limited scope of troubleshooting and design of networks and ISP connections. Thus I sought to pursue my graduate studies and get a specialized higher level degree in integrated systems emerging technologies. Being a leader in education and technology, and best of all its multicultural nature, I found no better alternative than the US for me and my spouse to further our education. CWRU is one of the top educational and research institutions in the US. In addition, CWRU is in the middle of it all; It is located in Cleveland OH, one of the major cities in the US, with reasonable living expenses, some of the best healthcare institutions, and most of all an accepting and welcoming community. For these reasons in particular I decided to further my education and become a part of Case Western Reserve University.

What do you miss most about your home country?
Other than being close to my parents and family, I mostly miss the beautiful sound of the calling for prayer (Azan). As a Muslim I ought to pray to God five short prayers a day; to remain conscious of God and give thanks to all the blessings we were given. At every prayer back home all mosques perform a live call for prayer with beautiful intonations of words unique for calling all to come and pray. Another thing I miss is seafood! My hometown, Jeddah, is located on the west coast of Saudi Arabia where the most delicious fish is caught fresh everyday.

How has your global perspective changed now that you have studied in the US?
Studying in the US is a great experience for me and my family. Culturally, I did not realize the diversity of the cultures in the US until I experienced it myself. Even though I have traveled to lots of places and experienced many cultures worldwide, I can see myself working and living here in the future; becoming a member of such a diverse and open-minded culture. Being here has also broken some of my barriers allowing me to be more social and adapt quickly to change.

Name one thing about studying in the US that you had heard about before arriving and were surprised it was actually true.
One thing I heard from word of mouth is that most top universities are highly selective when it comes to admission. That is, some institutes require a high standard for language and the GRE. This turned out to be true. However, this is mainly to ensure that only fitting candidates are admitted to a program and thus allowing the school to maintain an excellent educational environment. Nevertheless, most schools are really fair when it comes to admitting students as they implement a broader evaluation of each candidate. In other words, if you sought a specific school you never lose if you submit an application.

Name one thing you tried for the first time while studying a CWRU.  Did you like it?
Leading a club. I was assigned as president of the Saudi Student Union Club at CWRU in the summer of 2016. For me, it did not matter if I was an executive or not, however it has given me a chance to meet with people I have never met before and collaborate with other associations. That is the essence of this experience and therefore I love it.

What advice would you give to other international students arriving to study at CWRU?
CWRU and its surrounding community are really suitable for international students. You will be intrigued by how developed and densely-populated Cleveland is. Here you will find people from all around the world. This includes foods, historical figures, museums, and multicultural affairs. If you have already chosen to be here I can confidently tell you that you have made the right choice!

What is your favorite place to visit in the Cleveland area?
My favorite visiting spot in Cleveland is Edgewater park. There you can just go for a walk, enjoy the beautiful lake breeze, or even have a small BBQ with your family and friends.

What would you like to do after finishing your studies at CWRU?
I anticipate becoming a software embedded systems designer and engineer right after I get my degree. I'm also working on side software projects independently and plan to establish my own company. CWRU has sculpted my career goals, knowledge and research experience for a quick transition after my studies. So, thank you CWRU!