Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission Visit Highlights Student Success at VCU
By: V. Renee Russell
Global Education Office
Richmond, VA (April 29, 2013) — Virginia Commonwealth University Saudi Student Organization, Global Education Office, and Office of Strategic Enrollment Management hosted delegates from the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM) on Apr. 24-25. The purpose of the delegation's visit was to allow students to showcase their research and for the delegation to assess students' academic progress.
SACM implements Saudi Arabian educational and training policies aimed to provide the nation with qualified individuals capable of achieving the country's goals of progress and development. SACM Assistant Cultural Attaché for Academic Affairs Mohammed Alomar, Director of the Southeastern Region Ali Alferaehy, and Academic Advisor Younes Rahawi represented the delegation.
In his remarks to the students at a welcome reception at the Jonah L. Larrick Student Center on Apr. 24, Alomar encouraged students to take advantage of this unique opportunity to study in the United States. "The students who are studying here right now will be the future leaders of Saudi Arabia," he said. "We are really proud of them and hope they will fully understand the benefits of this opportunity."
VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., met with the delegation on Apr. 25 at the Scott House and expressed the important cultural contributions that Saudi students make to the VCU community. "That is such an important region of the world, both culturally and politically," he said. "We are pleased to participate in this program and to have such significant representation of Saudi culture here at VCU."
With nearly 350 Saudi students, VCU enrolls more international students from Saudi Arabia than from any other nation.
During their brief time at VCU, the delegation toured the university's Schools of Business and Engineering and reviewed poster presentations about student research currently being conducting in the areas of human and molecular genetics, neuromuscular sciences, and cancer research.
The delegation was also treated to a screening of Ten Saudis, a short documentary film produced by the Saudi Student Organization at VCU (SSO), in which ten students discuss their experience in the U.S. The film was featured on Al-Arabiya, a leading source of Arab and international news, last February.
The visit was coordinated by the SSO. "We want the delegation to see the Saudi student model at VCU and the successes we've had here," said Turki Al-mugaiteeb, SSO president and nanotechnology and nanoscience Ph.D. candidate. "We appreciate all the hard work that faculty and staff do to help Saudi students get connected so that we can contribute fully to the VCU community and get the most out of our experience here. VCU can serve as a model for other universities."
In addition to faculty and staff support, the sense of community from fellow Saudi students also serves to support academic success of SACM-sponsored students. "VCU is very pleased with the caliber of students who participate in this program," said Luke Schultheis, vice-provost for the VCU Division of Strategic Enrollment Management. "The students who come here are very well prepared and do an excellent job of creating a sense of community which further helps them succeed academically."
SACM currently sponsors some 80,000 students throughout the U.S. at more than 600 universities. There are 9,000 SACM sponsored students in the southeast region which spans the area from Delaware to Florida. SACM sponsorship includes financial support which covers tuition and fees and a financial stipend.