The KAUST Gifted Student Foundation Year Program wrapped up its second year with a ceremony on May 6th. The program, facilitated by the Global Training Initiative and the Intensive English Program, prepares gifted Saudi students for undergraduate study in the United States. It is an invitation-only scholarship administered by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology that selects students from the top three percent of Saudi high school graduates in science and math.
17 students completed the rigorous year-long program at NC State that included courses in English, math, science, writing and American culture. Six of these students will remain at NC State to begin degree programs in the fall and the others will go on to top-tier institutions across the country.
Muhanned Alsaif was part of the inaugural foundation year program and just completed his first year as an undergraduate at the NC State College of Engineering with a 4.0 GPA. He credits lessons learned during the foundation year for his academic success. Muhanned describes the most rewarding aspect of his first year as an undergraduate student being projects completed for the Freshman Engineering Design Day, where he worked with a group and “learned how to be productive and how to start from scratch to complete a project, while making new friendships.”
Making new friendships is also what Muhanned describes as the most challenging part of his freshman year at NC State. He felt isolated at first, but says he realized that all he needed to do was start talking. “You only need to start conversations to make new friendships,” he says of this aspect of the American college experience.
For other international undergraduate students following in his footsteps, Muhanned recommends getting involved in the many extracurricular opportunities available at NC State. When asked to give advice to incoming freshman international students, he says “Study abroad is a great experience…you shouldn’t waste time sitting in your room.”
Muhanned plans to declare a major of Electrical Engineering and is unsure whether he will pursue a career in academia or the industrial sector. He knows he does not want a routine job and is committed to exploring different career options during his time at NC State.