Rehab Alhajjar

Rehab AlhajjarI’m an environmental microbiology PhD student. My research focuses on the impact of nanoparticles on the microbial community. Stephen Techtmann is my advisor. I have a lot of respect for him. Before I applied to Michigan Tech, someone mentioned Stephen Techtmann and the University on Twitter. I was interested in water research and I thought being near the Great Lakes would be the best place to study water, so I said, “Okay, I will go there then!” I contacted Dr. Stephen and he accepted me into his lab. I have been here for almost two years so far and have another two years to go to the finish.

When I was in my country, Saudi Arabia, I never thought I would leave. But my dream made me go for it. I’m the kind of person who follows her dreams and doesn’t give up easily. I have studied biology all my life and I enjoy it. Since I was a child I’ve wanted to be a science teacher and I did it. When I finished my bachelor’s, I searched for a job, but I couldn’t find any job at the time, so I applied for a master’s, but the university didn’t accept me the first time. But, I applied the following year and they accepted me. After I finished my master’s, I got a job—it was my dream job, but it was a temporary position. While I was working, I heard about Michigan Tech’s scholarship requiring a high GPA and other things; I had everything they required, so I just applied, and they accepted me, and I said, “Okay, I’ll go then!” It was not easy and it took a long time to prepare to come but I was patient and I did it.

I love being here. It’s a quiet place. The nature is so beautiful and the people here are so nice. I have friends from all over the world here. It’s great. When I came to the US my brain just expanded! I know so much more about myself, how much I can do, how to be a leader; developing as a person is more important than getting a job.

During these past two years, I have been involved in many activities on and off campus. I have collaborated with the International Programs and Services in their ambassador to the world program. As an ambassador to the world, I share my culture with the local community in a way to make people understand and accept other cultures. In 2017 I gave a presentation on the Rotary International Nonprofit Organization about the appreciation of cultural values. I was the biology representative in the Graduate Student Government (GSG). I attended Center for Diversity and Inclusion discussions as GSG representative and am involved in many campus diversity challenge discussions. In addition, I am the founder and president of the Saudi club. In my organization, my goal is to enhance social communication and facilitate great experiences among students. I tried to achieve this goal when I organized social, cultural, and community service events on campus, such as Parade of Nations, a makeup competition, women-only activities, learn Arabic language, and Saudi Night. I love to volunteer for everything that helps people. That’s the kind of thing I like to do. I feel better if I give more than I take. Finally, I want to say that being nice and asking people for help if you need it is important. People here are nice, but you need to ask; no one will know anything about you if you don’t speak up.