The students are back on campus (welcome!), the faculty already are giving quizzes (ugh, right?), and we Newsroom contributors are ready for a fabulous and fresh year (woo!).
The Humans of St. Thomas series kind of went wild last year – which deserves another woo! Many of you screamed, “We want more!” More features, more often, and more and better photos! Be careful what you wish for. In response to your interest, I’ll be sharing the reins with some additional writers – a few of the brilliant literary types over in University Relations. As such, in the months ahead, you’ll get periodic breaks (third WOO!) from exclamation-point-loving and parenthetical-adoring me.
But not too fast – because, with the help of co-interviewer and St. Thomas senior Meredith Heneghan, I’m kicking off the second season of Humans right here, right now.
And what better way to begin than by introducing the interpersonally savvy, highly energetic and emerging leader Mashael Aljahdali? She’s a 25-year-old graduate student from Saudi Arabia; hates conflict (she calls it “heat”); loathes Minnesota winters; loves her family; wants to run a university; has five sisters and brothers; calls her dad her hero; and wonders why Americans are always too busy and work too much.
Tell us about you. And how you chose St. Thomas?
I graduated from King Abdulaziz University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. My specific major was human resource and management. Then I worked for one year and a half for a great company in Jeddah. Then I decide to gain my master’s degree abroad … (my family) suggested the city for me, and they said that St. Paul and Minneapolis – it’s a good place to start! … I live here with my brother, and also he has the same name. My name is Mashael, and my brother Mashal. He’s an undergrad student also here at St. Thomas. He’s studying engineering. My uncle also – he was a student here.
You’re getting your master’s in leadership administration. What’s your dream job?
So, I came here with goals and dream that need to be achieved by me! I was so excited to start studying here, actually to continue study something related to the HR. So, first of all I come here to enroll in HR development, human resource development. Then my adviser in my country said that we have enough people from this field, so just choose something else. I was like “what?”
You had to switch gears and programs pretty quickly.
St. Thomas has a great program in leadership administration so it attracted me. So, I just decide to continue to be a leader, maybe. Why not?! (My dream job) … to work at a university. To be in the administration there; to lead them!
You’re clearly going to be a leader and woman to watch!
So, I can see myself in the future as an active woman that will aid herself and her community; to improve the situation, with women employing independence. And I think that will happen by having a good education and having great opportunity to live abroad and see cultures, people. And I think our King Abdullah – may his soul rest in peace – had great vision to improve education in our country. And he supported the woman, very much. Yeah, he was so great. I think King Solomon also has the same vision.
Sounds like you’re someone with a pretty incredible vision herself.
I think it’s so important to have a job and do something – make some changes in the world. So this something – it’s like this is my goal or my target … that I want to achieve. I want to do something, not just be a person in life. (I want) to make a change!
Things that make you smile?
People. Active people! And babies.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen you not smiling!?
I will be honest with you, when I came here, I was – I don’t know – nervous. Because I will leave my country, my culture and my people there. It wasn’t easy for me. It wasn’t easy for me. But I can say I overcome, because I love to be with people!
Describe your impression of people here – at St. Thomas and in the cities.
The first day here for me was when I started in the English school. I saw how the people were so kind with me and how they want to help people no matter what your religion or ethnicity or culture. So they just want to help! Maybe it depends on the state, I don’t know. But St. Paul, Minneapolis – people are so lovely.
Any favorite teachers at St. Thomas?
Yes! So my last semester was with Dr. (Artika) Tyner. … She’s so awesome! And Dr. Sarah Noonan. She’s so active. I love her. Dr. Bill Brendel. … He’s such an amazing person.
Technology in your life: Take it or leave it?
Oh my gosh, I can’t live (without it)! Really. Especially because I live here alone, so I need to contact with my family! No, I need it. I need it so much, really. And I’m good it! Instagram. I love it so much. Facebook, Twitter, what else? Vine, you know Vine? (I love) all of them.
You mentioned your mom earlier. She sounds pretty special.
My mom is my friend, not just my mom. So I love her so much. It was so hard for me to live here without her.
And your father?
So, he’s my hero. I can say that. … My father – he’s a great person, really. He’s always pushing us to improve ourselves, to get education, to be something in this life. So I love him, really. He has a great vision to life, you know?
Greatest fear in life?
To lose my family. I love them so much.
Most surprising about life in Minnesota?
The lifestyle is totally different. Like in my country, we love to be with each other. Like for the lunchtime – all family come and eat together. Here, no! Everyone has something to do. Like this one has to work, and this one has to study or something.
Most annoying habit of Minnesotans?
People here – maybe not just in Minnesota, maybe in the United States overall – people love to work. They are just running, running. OK, just calm down! Really, they focus just on work. They don’t focus about family. They just want to work! Something needs to be done. I hate this.
Believe me, I know!
And I think I’ve become like you (Americans). I’m always running. I have to work, I have to do my homework.
But surely you love the Minnesota weather? (ha)
I came here in the summertime, so it was so nice to see the weather here. I loved the weather. Then, when the winter comes; it was like “what is this?!” Especially the last winter. It was terrible. The worst! And for me, I have never experienced winter in my life. So it was like “Oh my gosh.” I gave up.
Brag about yourself. (Long pause, and much encouragement, before the answer.)
Maybe something in my personality. Yeah, I love to meet people! I don’t know why but I love to do this. It’s like if I were in a group or something … I love to be the leader, make sure everything’s done.
As always, if you have an idea for a human you want to see featured, send your ideas my way: firstname.lastname@example.org. With our newly expanded team of motivated writers, we’ll need all the tips we can get!