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New Public Affairs Graduate Looks To Grow Community Involvement
Volunteer Found Family Bond, Program To Perfect Skills at UT Dallas

For years, Ruba Kuzbari has served the community through volunteer work. At the same time, she supported her physician husband, her young son and her daughters, who recently graduated from The University of Texas at Dallas to pursue medical careers.

Ruba Kuzbari (center), with daughters Shadan Alwan BS’16 (left) and Seem Alwan BS’19, plans to continue working toward a master’s degree and start a nonprofit organization after graduating this fall.

Now, as graduation approaches, it’s Kuzbari’s turn to earn her degree and expand her community involvement.

“I really enjoy working with nonprofit organizations and leading philanthropic projects, but I felt like I did not possess a strong core knowledge. I wanted to go beyond the surface and study it in-depth,” she said.

Kuzbari enrolled in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS) and this month will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in public affairs. After that accomplishment, she will continue studying toward a master’s degree in public affairs.

The mother of three said she had for some time wanted to go back to school and earn a degree, but she was primarily focused on raising her children.

Kuzbari’s oldest daughter, Shadan Alwan BS’16, majored in healthcare studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and recently began her medical residency at Medical City Weatherford. Her other daughter, Seem Alwan BS’19, majored in biology in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and is a medical student at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth.

Kuzbari talked with her family to determine the best major to help expand her nonprofit knowledge. When she began taking her public affairs classes at UT Dallas in 2019, she often ran into her youngest daughter, Seem, as she changed classes.

“It was nice seeing my mom in the school environment where I wasn’t used to seeing her,” Seem said. “I enjoyed running into her and having time between classes for breaks together.”

Kuzbari said she really appreciated the encouragement from Seem and said she, too, looked forward to their hallway encounters.

“At that age, some kids would feel embarrassed, not wanting to see their mom in the same hall. But it was the opposite for me. Seem would wait for me to get out of class, ask me how I was doing and introduce me to her friends,” she said. “I was very proud during those moments.”

Kuzbari has been active in the community for many years, serving on the board of Brighter Horizons Academy in Garland and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading various community projects that resulted in thousands of meals being provided to frontline caregivers and first responders. The donations also included personal protective equipment for medical workers.

While continuing to volunteer in the community, she eventually hopes to start a new nonprofit organization and said the UT Dallas public affairs program has already provided a lot of good information.

“I really have enjoyed every class I have taken in my journey so far. The more classes I have taken, the more I have liked it,” she said. “And all of the professors have been very supportive.”

“Ruba Kuzbari is a wonderful example of the kind of servant leader we hope to develop in our public affairs majors. She is not only a great role model now, but I know she will continue to serve as an inspiration to all of us who understand that service to others is the highest of callings.”

Dr. L. Douglas Kiel, professor of public and nonprofit management in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences

One of those instructors, Dr. L. Douglas Kiel, professor of public and nonprofit management in EPPS, commended Kuzbari for her community work, as well as for her academic efforts.

“Ruba Kuzbari is a wonderful example of the kind of servant leader we hope to develop in our public affairs majors,” Kiel said. “She is not only a great role model now, but I know she will continue to serve as an inspiration to all of us who understand that service to others is the highest of callings.”

Kuzbari said that because she is taking classes at an older age, she believes she is able to fully take in all of the learning opportunities. She encouraged other potential nontraditional students to pursue their dreams and seek degrees.

“Every time I participate in a class, I am really interested to learn as much as I can. It’s different from when you are younger because you really can focus on what you like, what you really enjoy,” she said. “I really encourage everybody to go back to earn a degree.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].