By Carole Rosner
Every gifted person has a unique story. The following story is part of a series of posts depicting the many faces of gifted by highlighting gifted children and adults we have found through IEA programs. IEA’s Apprenticeship Program – mentioned in this story – links gifted high school students from across the country with mentors who advance each participant’s skills through the application of knowledge and exposure to real world experiences.
2001 Apprentice, U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena
Planning and Studies Department Manager, Engicon
Co-Founder and CEO, Sowt
“I had spent all my childhood in Jordan, and I was interested in pursuing my university education in the United States. I saw the Apprenticeship Program as an opportunity to get a taste of higher education and research in the U.S.,” Hazem Zureiqat, 2001 Apprentice, explained.
Hazem was in 11th grade when a colleague of his mother discovered IEA’s Apprenticeship Program. Hazem had never been to America before but travelled 20+ hours that summer to spend two weeks at Caltech with Dr. Susan Hough.
“The experience, as a whole, was memorable—from meeting and interacting with fellow high school students from the U.S., to conducting research on the campus of a prestigious university, and to experiencing the Los Angeles area. I can’t think of a program that leaves such a large impact in such a short period of time.”
Hazem said that although he’d conducted some research before this Apprenticeship, he was used to researching questions that were more straightforward than those he encountered through his Apprenticeship. “I participated in a research project that looked into the relationship between earthquake occurrences and weather conditions. The research we carried out at USGS (U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena) and the research question lacked clear, definitive answers–even among experts and practitioners. I participated in various tasks, from gathering and crunching the numbers to assisting in preparing the final PowerPoint presentation.”
After graduating high school in Jordan, Hazem did venture to America for college. He went to Macalester College and then MIT, where he received a Master of Science in Transportation from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Upon receiving his Masters, Hazem moved back home and worked at the Greater Amman Municipality (“City Hall”).
“I was part of the project management team for several major transportation infrastructure projects in the capital. After two-and-a-half years at City Hall, I moved to Engicon, an engineering consulting company, where I still work. In addition to my work in transportation consulting, I started up Sowt (www.sowt.com) last year.”
Sowt, Arabic for “voice”, is an audio-based social networking platform. “It is similar to Twitter, but instead of text, people post short audio clips. Sowt was officially launched in March 2013 and is quickly gaining momentum across the Arab world,” Hazem explained. He founded the company with his brother and sister and currently runs the venture as CEO in addition to his consulting work with Engicon.
I asked Hazem where he hopes his life will take him. “I come from a region with many challenges and opportunities. I see myself as a global citizen, doing my part to improve the quality of life for the people of Jordan and the Arab world.”