LAU alumni reconnect, reminisce and celebrate
Hundreds of alumni take part in the 2017 homecoming and all-class reunions organized by the Alumni Relations Office.
“My second family,” “My home,” “My memories,” “My life,” were the words recurrently used by LAU alumni to describe what their alma mater meant to them, as they took part in a series of family-friendly activities organized during the 2017 annual homecoming held last week.
The celebration kicked off with the Annual Alumni Dinner, which gathered more than 400 alumni, LAU officials, faculty and staff, at Seven Sisters – Beirut.
Thanking the alumni for their commitment to the university and their key role in raising funds to cover scholarships for deserving students – alumni chapters raised more than $1million this year –, President Joseph G. Jabbra told the proud crowd: “You are special gifts to LAU. You are one of the major reasons why LAU grows to prominence and preeminence, reaching its right place in the constellation of institutions of higher education not only in Lebanon but also in the region and beyond.”
Like every year, the Alumni Relations Office made its traditional announcement of awardees, recognizing two alumni—nominated by their peers—for their outstanding professional achievements and commitment to the community.
Visibly moved, Fouad Zmokhol (’99) made it to the podium to receive the Alumni Achievement Award bestowed upon him. A young innovative entrepreneur, Zmokhol’s success earned him the presidency of the Association of Lebanese Business People in the World in 2017, following a five-year-long mandate as president of the Lebanese Businessmen Association.
Zmokhol, who obtained a doctorate in Business Administration from Newport University (USA), is CEO and co-owner of Zimco Group—a holding that integrates a printing press, leather factory, diary publishing house and advertising agency—and CEO of SAPDIB (Africa). A writer and educator, he shares his expertise as a professor of Managerial Strategies and Entrepreneurship at both Saint Joseph University and LAU.
“Receiving a recognition is always rewarding, but receiving an award from family members, professors, tutors, and childhood friends is so touching,” Zmokhol said. “My professors at LAU taught me how to never lose hope, how to fight, persevere, how to face life and business challenges. These professors have not only become my friends but also my advisors and tutors, and have been encouraging me up until today.” At the end of his emotional speech, Zmokhol passed on the award to his mother, thanking her for her support.
Fatin Ataya al Saadi (’72), recipient of the Alumni Recognition Award, established Dar Jana International School in Jeddah and served as the educational leader and chief administrator of the school. She guided the development of the school’s educational program, support services, infrastructure, policies and procedures, and led and implemented the school’s growth plan from 27 students in 1999 to more than 6,000 students in 2016 as well as its expansion from 5,000 m2 to 19,800 m2.
Today it is common to find that students from Dar Jana have gone on to join the LAU student body. “LAU offered me quality education … and has accompanied me ever since I stepped onto its campus … it never failed me,” she had said in a previous interview.
Not being able to attend the alumni dinner, she had a message that her brother Fahim Ataya read on her behalf. Thanking the Alumni Relations Office, the Alumni Association and the professors she works with, she said: “LAU has always been a leader in education and I am proud to be an LAU alumna.”
The festive atmosphere prevailed during the all-class reunions held in Byblos and Beirut, on July 13 and 14 respectively, and which saw alumni reconnect and reminisce about their days as university students.
“It is important for me to be here today to meet people, network with other alumni and hear more about the university,” said Roland Kfouri, who graduated in 2015 in Electrical Engineering. “LAU is about getting the right education, the right internship, in the right environment. It was always my home away from home.”
May Abdelkhalek, a 1963 graduate in biology, feels blessed to be in a house that overlooks the Beirut Campus. “My best memories are at LAU. I never miss a chance to come on campus, and I made sure that my daughter graduated from here too.”
The week-long homecoming concluded with the Annual President’s Forum Brunch that took place at Boulevard Beirut, Ain El Mreissi, and which allowed those present to ask questions and share their thoughts with Jabbra and alumni representatives.
“The homecoming is a time to reconnect alumni with the university and with each other,” said Abdallah Al Khal, assistant vice president for Alumni Relations. “But it is also to celebrate the achievements of the alumni chapters and to thank them for all they did for LAU during the year.”