Graduating Senior Profile: Motasem Kalaji

 By Malak Monir

Motasem Kalaji, communication alumnus from NU-Q’s Class of 2013.


Holding a water bottle in one hand and a thermos in the other, he darts from place to place, never spending an idle moment. It promises to be a busy day.

Motasem Kalaji, 22, is a communication alumnus from Northwestern University in Qatar’s Class of 2013, who also received The Dean’s Award on May 4 at NU-Q’s President’s Luncheon. He has many passions, from filmmaking to research to theater and has enjoyed having the opportunity to create what he wants.

“We were the second class (at NU-Q), so within that there was a lot of innovation and a lot of pioneering and kind of helping in creating the Northwestern experience, so that was very appealing. There was a lot of room for freedom and to be creative about creating things,” Kalaji said.

One of the things Kalaji is best known for is his energetic personality.

“He’s like a bolt of sunshine when he walks into the room,” said Susan Dun, senior lecturer in the communication program.

“He’s a great friend, always ready to support you, regardless of the stress and pressure he might be under, and he’ll always have great advice and jokes for you,” said Meriem Mesraoua, a fellow senior who met Kalaji during their freshman orientation.

Kalaji made an impression on Dun when they first met at an admissions presentation while he was still an 11th grader in International School of Choueifat in Doha, and she was excited to see him enroll at NU-Q. Kalaji has been working with Dun as both a teaching assistant for the Research Methods class and as her research assistant.

“He has basically worked with me on research on the level that I would expect a graduate student to be able to, especially in his senior year. He’s just developed so much and so quickly in the world of research, partially because he’s just really smart, and partially because he’s worked really hard,” said Dun.

Kalaji has made the most of his time at NU-Q. He has co-authored several book chapters with Dun, co-edited an upcoming e-book, and has been assistant director—and an actor—in Ann Woodworth’s, associate professor in the communication program, recent production of Medea. He looks forward to taking a break after graduating—that is, after finishing a two-month internship at Agency 222, an advertising company in Doha.

Although Kalaji feels it is time to move on from NU-Q, he said that he is sad that he will not be able to see the university continue to develop.

“Now that it’s coming to an end, you start thinking about all these times in the past, all the things you’ve done, and all the friends you’ve made, and you just feel a little bit sad about moving away from that,” he said.


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