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I received my MA in Applied Geography at UNCG in 2004, and my PhD in 2010. Currently, I am an Assistant Professor and Department Chair for the Department of Geography and Planning at the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain City, UAE. I am also currently a Chief Innovation Officer and work closely with senior leadership and alumni to solicit major gifts in support of our institutional priorities.
I am eternally grateful for all that I learned at UNCG, both in and outside of the classroom. I feel very fortunate to have received my MA and PhD degrees from UNCG-Department of Geography. During my MA and PhD years as a student at UNCG, I had the pleasure of working with Professor Keith Debbage, who also served as my advisor and mentor. His classes were great fun and academically focused with a significant amount of good natured banter. It was in these classes that I learned about key Urban Planning concepts and how to think out of the box.
I successfully published my MA thesis on the Geography of Air Transportation and Labor Markets in the Journal of Air Transport Management. I know this process was made easier due to the mentoring and knowledge that I received at UNCG especially regarding the quality of teaching, sense of belonging, and faculty availability which all helped to foster personal intellectual growth. Being a foreign student from the Middle East and not knowing much about the new culture and environment, I quickly became aware that choosing UNCG was the right choice because of the excellent academic advising, the coursework that promoted and developed career relevant skills, the ethnic/racial diversity, library resources, and the promotion of independent research activities. I appreciated UNCG so much that it was easy to make the decision to continue at the school in pursuing my doctorate which I was also able to publish in the Journal of Air Transport Management although now my focus was the Geography of Air Freight.
Overall, the staff and faculty in the Department of Geography at UNCG were extraordinarily helpful. All the good things I learned at UNCG have carried with me to UAE in every respect with regard to my teaching, research, service and learning pedagogy. Given my background from the Middle East, UNCG faculty were always very helpful particularly in helping me to better understand the lecture notes and building my confidence regarding speaking beyond my native tongue. I strive every day to convey these same values in my students here at UAEU. No doubt, I miss the golden days of my college life but I try to enjoy every moment of it with my students here in UAE.