The inaugural KAUST Gifted Student Foundation Year Program concluded with a ceremony on May 8th to honor achievements of 15 Saudi students. NC State was not on any of their radars before coming to campus for the scholarship program administered by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It quickly became the top choice for most to pursue undergraduate degrees after spending time on campus. Out of the inaugural cohort, 14 applied to NC State and eight committed to attending in the fall over institutions such as UC Davis, Michigan State, and Boston University.
The KAUST Gifted Student Program (KGSP) is a fully funded scholarship for undergraduate Saudis studying science and engineering abroad. Each year, KAUST awards the competitive scholarship to approximately 135 students, placing them at one of seven foundation year programs across the United States.
The foundation year program at NC State is administered by two of OIA’s units; the Global Training Initiative and the Intensive English Program. The students spend an academic year at NC State, preparing for the full college experience. A range of cultural and extracurricular activities aimed at helping KAUST students integrate and prepare for life at American universities are planned throughout the year in addition to academic English and science courses.
Hessa Al Maghlouth is one of the Saudi students who will start a degree program at NC State this fall. “Spending my foundation year here helped me get to know the campus, and I loved how everyone has worked very hard to do the best job they could,” Hessa said about the decision to stay at NC State. “I know that NC State will bring me many opportunities later in my studies.”
Hessa received the Writing Excellence Award at the KAUST end of year celebration May 8th. She is one of two female students transitioning to degree programs on campus this fall (along with six male peers) and experienced being in the same classroom as male students and teachers for the first time this year. Hessa says she was impressed and inspired by how her Saudi peers handled the new experience. “It was all new to me, but I tried to not overwhelm myself. We helped each other adjust. If anything, I believe I am very lucky to get to be in the same classroom with people as smart and enlightened as my classmates and professors.”
The Global Training Initiative and Intensive English Program welcome the second round of KAUST students this fall.