2021 marks my 7th year at Saint Joseph University of Beirut at the faculty of dentistry. During all of these years, I tried to make the most out of what my university offers and live my student experience to its fullest. I have been part of the Pastorale universitaire, participated in on and off campus events, volunteered with clubs, attended workshops and took part of the student council at my faculty.
From all of these participations, I would love to share my experience with the USJ Alumni Federation.
It all started when my teacher Dr Nada Farhat Mchayleh encouraged me to enroll in the University Innovation Fellows program that was brought to USJ by Mrs Ursula El Hage and I gladly took part of it with 3 other colleagues from USJ: Tatiana Wakim (ESIB), Charbel Abou Younes (ESIB) and Elio Gerges (INCI). During the process of the UIF program, we had to achieve an innovative project at USJ in order to become fellows. My team and I ideated around the following need: How might we bridge the gap between USJ students and alumni? As a solution, we came up with the Alumni Meetups project. It consists of hosting meetups where chosen alumni will be talking about their experience and their career for a group of students who choose to attend. These friendly meetups were a need to us students in order to learn what books can never teach us about our career and to broaden our perspectives in life. We collaborated with the USJ Alumni Federation represented by its president Dr Christian Makary who I got the chance to encounter as a teacher at my faculty and as the number one supporter of our Alumni Meetups Project.
As a team we worked closely with Dr Makary and Dr Abdallah Manhal from the USJ Alumni Federation to plan these meetups and make our project a reality. Eventually, it turned out to be a success! Meetups were hosted at 4 USJ campuses: CSM, CST, CIS and CSS. Students were very positive, the feedback was overwhelming and the alumni who were hosted as speakers were very collaborative and gave their best to allow students to have an unforgettable gathering. And to top it all, when becoming UIF fellows as a result of our successful innovative project, the USJ Alumni Federation were generous enough to sponsor our team's trip to Stanford University that unfortunately was postponed due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Ever since, the Alumni Meetups Project is sustained by the UChange Community and hosted twice a year, to allow USJ students to learn from the experience of their alumni. We are continuously in close contact with the USJ Alumni Federation and with the presidents of the Alumni Associations of the faculties. Their support and readiness to collaborate helped to take our meetups to a higher level. But the key behind the success of this collaboration is the enthusiasm of our alumni, their open spirits, their belonging to USJ and their willingness to give without anything in return.
This experience taught me how important it is to share and to give unconditionally. What if what we are sharing is our personal experience and the ways that carved our personality and allowed us to achieve our goals? These stories leave an impact on others and can change lives by giving hope, opportunities and support. This network of alumni is a treasure that needs to be invested and cherished to serve the students at USJ.
I will try my best as an alumnus, to help, support, guide and empower students in order to allow them to be the best version of themselves.
By that, the role of the USJ Alumni Federation is crucial at our university and hopefully we can work together to implement a mentorship program that will put students in direct contact with their matching alumnus.
When giving is receiving, it is certain that when students get the support given by their alumni, they will be eager to give in return when they become alumni themselves.
Joséphine El BALAA - Faculté de médecine dentaire