Alumni Feature: Ban Shoukeir
We recently connected with recent alumna, Ban Shoukeir, BS ‘22, to learn about her journey at GW Engineering.
GW Engineering: What drew you to the School of Engineering and Applied Science and GW?
What drew me to SEAS, in the academic sense, was the obvious passion for research and innovation. When you walked into SEH, you just got the sense that there was so much happening - work in STEM that strived to help the world. I loved the community of students and professors within SEAS because we are one of the smaller schools. Everyone knows each other. Looking back on my undergraduate career, going through SEAS was a positively unique experience. I wouldn’t have changed any of it!
GW Engineering: What activities were you involved in as a student?
I was the President of the Biomedical Engineering Society chapter (BMES) from the spring of my sophomore year to the end of the fall of my senior year. I participated in the George Hack medical hackathons for 3 years in a row, I was a member of the Society of Women engineers (SWE), and a member of the engineering professional/social sorority, Alpha Omega Epsilon (A.O.E.).
Outside of SEAS, I was a member of the spoken word group “Speakers of the House.” I love to write poetry and having a creative outlet was important because I had the time to do something I loved, even if school got busy.
In SWE and A.O.E., I made some of my closest friends, I know I will have for a lifetime. I am grateful for the growth I experienced both personally and professionally with my involvement. BMES helped me grow as a leader and develop a tight-knit BME community. Participating in George Hacks helped spark my passion for entrepreneurship and innovation. It was a yearly reminder as to why I became a BME - to do good and make a difference.
GW Engineering: Are there particular classes or professors who stand out in your mind?
Associate Dean and Professor Jason Zara. He is my mentor, not just as a faculty mentor that was assigned to me, but he is someone that is always there to lend a helping hand and helped me grow academically and professionally. When I decided to go to GWU, he emailed all the parents in the BME department. I’d never heard of a professor, or anyone really, do something like this. He had a conversation with my mom and answered all her questions as a nervous parent sending her first child off to college. Starting off at SEAS, I wasn’t as nervous as I expected to be because I already knew there was a professor there who wanted us to succeed and support us from the start. I’m sure my entire BME class would say the exact same thing. I can’t thank him enough for all he has done for me - from giving academic and life advice, to calming my panic whenever I thought I couldn’t reach my goals. He always helped me put things in perspective and believe in myself. He’s the kind of professor everyone would be lucky to have and know. I’m lucky to call him my mentor!
GW Engineering: Did you received any honors or awards?
I was the commencement speaker for the SEAS graduation celebration this past spring. It was the best moment of my life. The special thing about our class is our resiliency. We rooted ourselves in our college lives in person, and halfway through our second year it was upended by the pandemic. Then we rooted ourselves in taking online school and tried to get used to a new “normal” without our friends around us, without that in-person connection, with so much anxiety from everything happening around us. We tried to make the most of it, but none of it was easy. Then a year later we came back, and it was time to adjust to a “normal” we became so distant from. Being able to speak to my class and remind them that after everything we’ve been through, showing up every day and getting our degrees is something to celebrate. My speech surrounded this quote my Jido, my grandpa, always says in Arabic that translates to “The world shakes but it never breaks.” Our world shook and we had every reason to let it get to us, but we didn’t. I am so proud of all of us, and if there’s anything I want my class to take away from my speech is that they should be proud of themselves too.