LAU across generations
Two current LAU students honor their father’s commitment to LAU by naming a seat at Irwin Hall.
Leading their father through the Beirut campus last autumn, two sisters currently studying at LAU executed a surprise birthday plan. “We’re just going to introduce you to someone who thinks they know you from when you were a student here,” Tala and Layan insisted to Ossama Zein. Believing he was being taken on a mere walk down memory lane, Zein instead walked into the Irwin Hall Auditorium to find a seat bearing a plaque freshly engraved with his name.
On the eve of the 30th anniversary of Zein’s graduation from LAU, his daughters decided to enshrine his love for the university while honoring a longstanding wish. “He always had the idea of naming a seat or bench with all three of our names when we graduate,” explains Tala Zein. Instead, she and her younger sister Layan beat Ossama to the task and decided to surprise him on his 52nd birthday. “Seeing his speechless reaction was worth everything to me,” recalls Layan.
The Jeddah-based Zein, who graduated from LAU in 1986 with a degree in Computer Science, works as a senior project manager with Saudi Arabia’s largest commercial enterprise, E.A. Juffali and Brothers. Crediting LAU with the foundation of his success, his daughters say their father wasn’t the greatest fan of education before joining LAU. “But when he came to LAU, he discovered a love for it. He enjoyed studying here so much, and that’s how he motivated us to come to this university,” reveals Tala.
Keen to choose a major related to her father’s studies, Tala went into Business Information Technology Management and is now in her third year. Passionate about this field, she hopes to start an IT company offering solutions for small to medium companies in the Middle East. The more artistically minded Layan took a different course and is currently a freshman in Interior Architecture.
Discretely etched into sleek new seats and weathered benches throughout campus, plaques named for alumni tell deeply meaningful individual stories. “By naming a seat after our father, it’s like claiming something in a place he loves, keeping a memory for him at LAU,” says Tala. In the third row at the center of the Irwin Hall Auditorium, one seat henceforth carries a personal story that reunites two generations of enthusiastic LAU students. Beyond bearing the name of an alumnus, a family legacy has been set in stone. According to Tala, “To my father LAU felt like home, and I agree with him since I already feel so comfortable here after only two semesters.”