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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

'It helped me become who I am today': students past and present on life at American University of Sharjah

Aisha Abdulla Miran was one of the first students at American University of Sharjah and now holds a top job in Dubai

Chemical engineering student Mehak Aggarwal praised AUS as an excellent place to study. Anna Nielsen for The National.
Chemical engineering student Mehak Aggarwal praised AUS as an excellent place to study. Anna Nielsen for The National.

Aisha Abdulla Miran was one of the first batch of students to study at American University of Sharjah when it opened its doors in 1997.

Twenty years on, she recalls the decision to attend AUS over Al Ain University, UAE University and the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT).

“Al Ain was a bit far for me. HTC wasn’t the one I wanted,” she said.

“Suddenly we hear about the AUS and I thought I had my shot. It had an American name. It was Sharjah, so we thought 'let’s try it.”

She remembers a small community, surrounded by desert. But slowly the dormitories started to become fuller and fuller as more students arrived from across the region. It is the diversity in particular that was important for her.

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“You need diversity to learn. You learn tolerance – you learn from different cultures.”

Ms Miran graduated from AUS in 2001 with a bachelors degree in management information systems. And she earned an executive MBA in 2012. She has risen to become an assistant secretary general at the Executive Council of the Government of Dubai and says that attending AUS helped her to the position she holds today.

Her high-powered role includes strategy development and management.

Aisha Miran, assistant secretary general for strategy, management and governance with the Executive Council of Dubai. Here she is pictured at an American University of Sharjah event last year. Anna Nielsen for The National
Aisha Miran, assistant secretary general for strategy, management and governance with the Executive Council of Dubai. Here she is pictured at an American University of Sharjah event last year. Anna Nielsen for The National

“Aside from the academic side, I developed my social life. It brings a lot of good memories – I was a wife, a mother and a student. So AUS helped me to become who I am today.”

Ms Miran says she is proud to be the product of a local system and that employers appreciate AUS graduates. “The youth that you see today are so complex and so advanced in their thinking. That makes you really proud.”

Two of these youth are Mehak Aggarwal, 21, and Adnan Shahpurwala, 22. Both seniors at AUS, they are studying chemical engineering and electrical engineering respectively. Both praise AUS as an excellent place to study.

“They are more stringent on the rules here,” said Mehak, an Indian national who was raised in the Emirates. “But I feel this allows students to have a sense of direction.”

Said Adnan of life at AUS added: “It mixes the best of the east and west in one place. It’s a very good place to work.”

Mehak is planning to work for a while before deciding on her long-term career, while Adnan is considering academia. Both praise the opportunities they are getting at the campus in everything from the clubs to the student life.

“I like to choose the best so that’s why I’m at AUS,” said Mehak.