After I fled my home country, I went to Jordan seeking refuge, where which we were not very much welcomed; mostly because I was a foreigner and had a different religious background. I was accepted to many schools, but I was denied to receive a Visa to all the countries I applied to. I had to stay in Jordan, although they do not have a petroleum engineering program, so I enrolled as a civil engineer, my second choice. I continued working while going to school. Jordan was a great experience. As I did not know any person, besides my family I had to literally live alone and start a life from scratch. I enjoyed working going to school both fulltime, it affected my personality and life experience exponentially, but my grades suffered as it shows on my GPA. I was able to tolerate racism until I was granted immigration visa to the US. I left University of Jordan without taking the surveying final exam; I would have missed the visa deadline if I sat for that test.
In the US, so far, I have been living my childhood again, but no one to lean back on. It is a whole new world, in which I had to learn, interact, work, and educate myself for me to be competitive. California State University Northridge was my first step on the ladder of progress in America. There I had the chance to continue my education as a civil engineer and get my bachelor degree. Meanwhile, I had to work to support myself. I worked several jobs climbing up for a better experience and income to support my living expenses. Also, I had to go out to meet people to expand my social network and my knowledge of this country all of which consumed a lot of my time. Year after another, I was able to graduate, and on time. I had to take more than eighteen units for few semesters so I can graduate on time. Starting a life all over again was a tough task, which had some impact on my performance in school, in terms of grades, but not the level of knowledge. I admit it, I missed homework and projects. I even missed some exams along with so many nights without asleep. That experience gave me the opportunity to learn working under pressure without losing efficiency along with my detail orientation. It also taught me better time management techniques to meet deadlines.
My education in the US has molded my scattered thoughts. It gave me a different approach and perspective. Things started to become clearer and make more sense. Professors helped to “put the dots on the letters.” Civil engineering made me a better engineer and a better person. Undergraduate program gave me an opportunity to understand to how common things work around us. In fact, in some classes, like dynamics for example, things start to “click” if you connect it to real life situation. To me, it was like light shining out of the board or the professors’ mouths, things were “clicking.” Everything seemed familiar and made absolute sense; it was my thoughts in words and graph. Engineering took a great part of life and it always will. Nevertheless, college has added a lot more to my level of competence and expertise. For example, my senior design project entailed designing a concrete bridge, a multistory building, and a community water network. I worked on the structural design, designing the slabs, columns, abutments, piers, and foundations. I was also a member of the ASCE steel bridge team at CSUN. I was part of the team responsible for designing and fabricating high load capacity connections and short assembly time members. In that team, I have learned scheduling, quality control, and working as a part of a team. That team work had paid back and led us to place third in the regional ASCE conference steel bridge competition and qualified for nationals. Nevertheless, throughout my undergraduate education, I have acquired a strong background in the fundamentals of basic engineering along with my specialty subjects that I can apply in petroleum industry. Such as Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Foundation and Geotechnical Engineering, Construction and Project Management, Strength of Materials, Surveying, and many other courses, this can give me a different perspective that I can use when I’m performing different types of projects in future job in the petroleum industry.
I am fascinated by how prevalent petroleum and, my main engineering interest, has become in our everyday lives. The petroleum industry is one of the largest in the world. So many have become dependent on the services of petroleum engineers to explore, discover, and produce to meet our world’s energy needs. My passion for this fascinating field has been growing every day. A friend of the family, who’s a petroleum engineer and a VP at one of Shell’s regional offices, encouraged me to pursue a graduate degree in petroleum engineering and that I would be more effective in the field. Now after I found that I have the opportunity to continue my education in petroleum engineering, which is not an option back home we can continue only in the field which we started in, I’ll do what it takes to become one. I want to be involved in the exploration and production process of today’s one of the most precious elements of the planet after oxygen and water. I might not have any experience in the field yet, but I’m confident I will be fit for the program, the company, and the industry in general. I work hard to thrive and reach where I want to be. It is a goal that I’m chasing. It is a goal that will score and your school will hopefully be the field that I’ll run on.
I am interested specifically in the [Viterbi School] because; of course, it has a great academic reputation, which would add value to my future. Growing up in Iraq I already had heard about the school. And since moving to the US, I have been influenced by several people, that I would call my idols, most of which have graduated from [Viterbi as engineers]. Also, graduate study is an important stage in pursuing my career goals, I don’t want to compromise on the quality of my education, and as far as the quality your school is the one that I can think of. That and, I view your school as the ideal place for me to work on projects and research programs that interests me, [like Fluid flow, transport, and reaction in porous media with professor Yannis C. Yortsos], it is something that I’m interested in and that I have a background about. It would enhance my proficiency and broaden my knowledge. Moreover, [there is the Smart Oilfield Technologies program offered and USC-Chevron Center of Excellence for Research and Academic Training on Interactive Smart Oilfield technologies, which entails research areas of interest to me]. Nevertheless, the USC alumni program and its connections are very important in obtaining not only knowledge but the network and references for future career advancement. Finally, [USC lays in a State which uses petroleum for 96% of the transportation need, 37% of that need is produced in California.]
Outside of engineering knowledge and experience, I have acquired certain general skills, values, and attitudes—critical to any worker—while working as Director of Operations at Boston Educational Services as well as Operations and Supplies procurement at Ultimate Vision Co. in Bagdad, Iraq. Through these positions I learned to work in a timely fashion paying strict attention to deadlines and customer or user’s needs. I also learned how to work well with others in a team effort and to frequently go beyond that which I was expected to do. I learned how to complete tasks in a timely manner consistently with decisiveness and efficiency. Regardless of the situation or challenge I developed a consistently positive and adaptive attitude, remaining calm and not merely reacting emotionally but looking to solve problems as they arose. I have learned to adapt to any culture, environment, or under any condition.
In addition to the above, I am a person who is considered honest, self-motivated, and willing to learn and grow. Having overcome abject difficulties and trials in Iraq as well as those on the job has helped me to develop great self-confidence that not only enables me to get the job done but to motivate others in the process. I am not afraid to ask questions if I need more knowledge to solve an issue or concern, nor am I unwilling to admit my mistakes and shortcomings, always looking to improve, of course.
After graduation, my short-term career goals are to find positions that will allow me learn and grow. A position in which, will push and challenge myself. In such a position I’d like to be involved with a production, transportation, or drilling process. However, these interests might grow more during my education; it is a field with many options. Due to the fact that I’m a fast learner, I find myself capable of growing in a company and have the potentials to lead. Therefore, part of plans is to have a managerial position, consultancy, or even run my own company one day.
As you can see, I certainly have the aptitude and motivation for graduate study at the Viterbi School of Engineering. My overseas experiences and trials set me apart from most candidates and manifest themselves in my ability to do whatever is necessary to get the job done right, under any circumstances, and to get through all challenges.
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