DERRRICK Interview with International Student Affairs Professional Sayed Omar

SayedOmarEncouragement Speaker Derrick Hayes gives a DERRICK Interview by asking 7 questions through each letter of his first name to give you an insightful perspective from other experts, entrepreneurs, celebrities and up and coming super stars.

Today’s DERRICK Interview is with Sayed Omar, student life adviser for 10 years at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. I have been the adviser for student government for five years and later on adviser of student conferences and graduate student association on Campus. I have been certified as trainer from Dale carnegie training  , student life adviser from Association for  Promotions of Campus Activities APCA , student coach and staff development from National Association for Campus Activities NACA. I have been awarded by APCA conference 2013/14 adviser of the year and outstanding adviser who makes a difference in student life.

D is for Dream. What is your dream, goals or what have you achieved?

I believe , as student affairs professional and student organizations senior specialist, that each student on campus is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring, and stimulating atmosphere in which to grow , develop. and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially- Alexander Astin. It is my desire as a educator / adviser for more than 20 student organizations on campus is to help students meet their fullest potential in these areas by providing an environment that is safe, supports risk-taking, and invites a sharing of ideas. I do believe that student should learn by planning, developing, learning by mistakes , and there are three elements that I believe are conducive to establishing such an environment, student should be trained, developed , maintained, alerted, and finally document and assessed student development.

When my role is to guide, providing access to information rather than acting as the primary source of information, the students’ search for knowledge is met as they learn to find answers to their questions. For all student conferences and graduate student associations should adjust , plan and take risk for organizing such events. Students have the free place for creativity and take risk either they continue in their event or not. More and above, students need the opportunity to discover for themselves and practice skills in authentic situations. Providing students access to hands-on activities and allowing adequate time and space to use materials that reinforce the lesson being studied creates an opportunity for individual discovery and construction of knowledge to occur.

Equally important to self-discovery is having the opportunity to study things that are meaningful and relevant to one’s life and interests. Therefore, most of students I have advised have changed their majors and careers when they participate in student activities and discover their purpose in their lives. One way to take learning in a direction relevant to student interest is to invite student dialogue about the lessons they have learned during their life on campus and student organizations. In addition to that when students have ownership in the curriculum, they are motivated to work hard and master the skills necessary to reach their goals.

One of the lessons that diversity  teaches our students is helping  students to develop a deep love and respect for themselves, others, and their environment occurs through an open sharing of ideas and a judicious approach to discipline. When the voice of each student is heard, and environment evolves where students feel free to express themselves. Class meetings are one way to encourage such dialogue. I believe college students have greater respect for their teachers, their peers, and the lessons presented when they feel safe and sure of what is expected of them. In setting fair and consistent rules initially and stating the importance of every activity, students are shown respect for their presence and time. In turn they learn to respect themselves, others, and their environment.

E is for Education. What is your educational background and how do you use it daily?

I graduated from faculty of law, have diploma in business administration, management, leadership education, and finally post graduate diploma in special education. My education backgrounds helped me at when I was the student government adviser to draft the student constitution and undergraduate and graduate student senate bylaws.  As an educator, my background helped me a lot in how to advise student leaders, planning and coaching student groups.

R is for Resource. What resources do you bring to the table that makes you unique or stand out?

For myself, teaching provides an opportunity for continual learning and growth. One of my hopes as an educator is to instill a love of learning in my students, as I share my own passion for learning with them. I feel there is a need for compassionate, strong, and dedicated individuals who are excited about working with students . In our competitive society it is important for students to not only receive a solid education, but to work with someone who is aware of and sensitive to their individual needs. I am such a person and will always strive to be the best educator that I can be.

R is for Ready. When did you realize you were ready for what you are doing now?

Student affairs is not a job it is a life long learning. My background in education and more than 9 international conferences in the States either with the students or alone, I have realized it is time to transfer all my education to my students and staff who deeply need student affairs experience. It is a great opportunity to transfer and integrate with international student affairs professional and share knowledge and experience which for 10 years Iam doing my best either in my school or international meetings with my colleagues in student affairs.

I is for Individual. Name at least one individual in your network that others should learn more about and why?

Eric Lambert , CEP Association for Promotions of Campus Activities APCA. He has tried his best and his wife , Jessica, to establish student conference for educators and campus promotors.

C is for Challenges. What challenges have you had to overcome?

University budget to attend international student conferences to integrate with student affairs professionals. Establish student leadership center to teach students soft skills and finally student affairs updated books and membership in international student affairs organizations such as NASPA, ACPA, APCA, etc. because the passion of the student affairs and student impact, I have invested most of my annual salary to travel and purchase books and membership.

K is for Key. What keys to success can you leave for upcoming entrepreneurs and leaders?

I have drafted the student constitution , graduate association constitution, budget committee bylaws, student government elections rules and procedures, and finally student leadership university manual.

Visit Sayed Omar for more information.


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