Family Promotes Student Involvement

May 13, 2016 | Stacey Ortman

DUBUQUE, Iowa – Rabea Muneer Ali and his wife, Razan Murad, traveled from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to the University of Dubuque to further their education. On Saturday, May 14, the couple who promoted student involvement on campus will graduate with master’s degrees in communication. 

“It’s going to help us for the future,” Rabea said.

He and his wife, who heard about the University from a friend, found lifelong connections with staff and other students at UD. Rabea said those connections were powerful.

“It’s a small campus, but it’s a really nice campus because you know everyone,” he said.

While at the University, Rabea helped launch the Saudi Students Organization at University of Dubuque (SSOUD). He was elected as the organization’s first president.

“At first it was very hard, because we started from the bottom,” Rabea said, adding. “We don’t have any materials, so we have to create everything from the zeroes. That was one of the hardest things that we faced, but we got it done.”

The SSOUD routinely participate in campus events in order to introduce the Saudi culture and tradition to American and international students at UD. Members of the organization also assist Saudi students on campus, celebrate national and cultural holidays, and volunteer in the City of Dubuque.

“Sharing our culture with others, it’s one of the most important things for us as Saudi students and as an Islamic religion,” Rabea said.

Razan also served as a leader for Saudi women in the organization.

“It was great helping Saudi women,” she said.

The couple balanced campus involvement, academics, and family life. They took turns caring for their two-year-old, Muneer Ali, and completing homework. Phyllis Garfield, director of international student services and study abroad at UD, was impressed with the family.

“As difficult as it is to do a college degree when you have a family, it gets more difficult when both mom and dad are studying and you are studying a second language in a place far from family connections you would usually rely on for extra childcare help,” Garfield said.

Rabea, Razan, and Muneer plan to return to Saudi Arabia where Rabea will work as an environmental engineer with Jeddah Municipality.