First International Alumni Chapter Established
Cynthia Young, PhD (left), Yahya Alassaf ’16PhD (center) and Julie C. Stroh (right) announce UCF’s first international alumni chapter[/caption]
By Jenna Marina
ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 20, 2016) — With 31 active chapters in cities across the country, UCF Alumni announced the addition of the UCF International Alumni Chapter of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday morning – the first international chapter in university history. The inauguration ceremony was held appropriately at the UCF Global building.
It will be led by Yahya Alassaf, who earned his doctorate in civil engineering during December’s fall commencement. Alassaf will be returning to his native country in three weeks to begin his career in academia as a civil engineering professor at Northern Border University, located in the city of Arar.
“UCF has been and will be a special place for every Saudi. It’s a place where people dedicate their life to supporting us and making us better,” Alassaf said. “To be a part of and to lead the first international alumni chapter at UCF is a great honor. It means a lot to all of us. It means the spirit of UCF will be with us forever. We are proud to support and represent UCF in Saudi Arabia and beyond.”
Alassaf said he came up with the idea a few months ago. The idea became a reality after meetings with UCF Vice Provost for Faculty Excellence and UCF Global Cynthia Young, PhD; Assistant Vice President for UCF Global Nataly Chandia; and Senior Associate Vice President for UCF Advancement Julie C. Stroh.
Stroh said half of UCF’s alumni base lives in the Central Florida area and roughly 200,000 alumni live in the state of Florida, but as UCF looks to strengthen its global presence, international alumni chapters seem like the logical next step.
“UCF is nothing if not entrepreneurial. It’s important that we look across the country and across the globe for these connections,” she said. “Diversity is important. The beauty of this culture – the smell of the Arabic coffee in the room, the lovely music playing, the beautiful faces – how could that not be important?”
Young said of the 75 conferred Ph.D. degrees last weekend, 25 percent were bestowed to international students like Alassaf. However, of all the undergraduate students at UCF, half of 1 percent are international students. She hopes to increase that number to 5 percent (3,000 undergrads) and challenged the alumni chapter to help in achieving that goal.
“Think about how you can impact not just graduate students but undergraduate students and help them transform their lives by coming to UCF,” she said in her address to the crowd. “You’re truly ambassadors.”
Alassaf took the message to heart.
“I assure you that every Saudi Alumni will be a great representative of the values of UCF and its commitment to excellence,” he said. “And we will do our best to be an exceptional alumni chapter for UCF.”