Graduating Senior Profile: Ismaeel Naar

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Graduating Senior Profile: Ismaeel Naar

Ismaeel Naar, journalism alumnus and student speaker at NU-Q commencement ceremony for the Class of 2013.

Ismaeel Naar, journalism alumnus and student speaker at NU-Q commencement ceremony for the Class of 2013.

Ismaeel Naar, journalism alumnus and student speaker at NU-Q commencement ceremony for the Class of 2013.

Ismaeel Naar, journalism alumnus and student speaker at NU-Q commencement ceremony for the Class of 2013.

Ismaeel Naar, journalism alumnus and student speaker at NU-Q's commencement ceremony for the Class of 2013.

Ismaeel Naar, journalism alumnus and student speaker at NU-Q commencement ceremony for the Class of 2013.

By Paulo Fugen

Ismaeel Naar, a 21-year-old Bahraini journalism graduate—and the senior speaker at this year’s NU-Q commencement—loves storytelling.

When he was a kid, he says he could not stop telling stories to his family and friends, to the point where his mother would often have to intervene to make him stop.

But he knew that journalism was not a major that guys go into; guys were expected to follow in their father’s footsteps. Moreover, his father had plans for him to study business.

But that was never going to stop him. “When it came time to choose a university, I gave my dad an ultimatum: either I go into journalism or I don’t go to any university,” Naar said.

Naar, a Bahraini national, was not surprised to learn that he was going to be one of only four male students in the Class of 2014.

He made the most of his time at NU-Q, heavily involving himself in the community. He was one of the original staff members of The Daily Q and became a member of the NU-Q debate club.

“I’m very proud to say that I’ve gone to at least 90 percent of all athletic games at Northwestern to show my Wildcat spirit,” said Naar, “In the residence halls, I always had to show that I was a Wildcat by wearing purple.”

“He has always been there,” said fellow student Usama Hamed, 23, “The whole concept of journalists supporting each other: he understands that.”

A scholarship and financial assistance made Naar chose NU-Q over other universities in the States, but he also realized he held a connection with the region. During his four years at NU-Q,, he worked for 10 weeks at the Financial Times in the United States for his required journalism residency. Later, Naar also worked for 12 weeks in France for Euronews, including covering the Epgytian elections.

But during both internships, he missed the Middle East.

His passion for NU-Q and the Middle East led him to being chosen as the student speaker for the class of 2013 at its graduation ceremony on May 5. Those who knew him were not surprised.

“I am incredibly proud of him,” said Tracy Vaughn, professor at NU-Q, “[he] embraced [himself] in the idea of this campus.”

“I think he deserves it,” said Hamed, “He has raised the bar pretty high for any male student at NU-Q.”




Ismaeel Naar’s speech at NU-Q’s second commencement ceremony held on May 5, 2013. The ceremony recognized 33 graduates from the journalism and communication schools:



“President Schapiro, Provost Linzer, Dean Dennis, Members of the platform party, Faculty, Staff, friends and family …

No more deadlines… No more filming…. No more “I have permission, I swear!” … or maybe not. No more final cut renderings… or the countless breaks we take because of them. And no more weeping in the middle of Batteel for receiving Medill Fs, thank God for that. (haha)

In all seriousness, let us take a step back to the very beginning, Day 1 of Orientation. Deans Roth and Schwoch sat us down and asked us: “Why Northwestern? Why Communications? Why Journalism?” Most of us looked around… Didn’t we already answer that many times during the application process? So the answers came: I want to tell stories. I want to help others. I want to travel the world. I want to change the world. That’s when Professor Abe said “Good, because here at Northwestern, you will learn to give a voice to the voiceless.” As simple as that may sound, I didn’t know what that truly and exactly meant.

So this takes me back two years ago when I had my first real lesson in journalism, when I had a conversation with a security guard, who at three in the morning was already feeling the exhaustion of a midnight shift. He looked at me and said “Ismaeel, my friend, work hard and don’t end up like me. I never took education and my ambitions seriously.” Over the course of that night, I found out that he had two children and that he was sending most of his salary back to Nepal where his son was just about to graduate from college. His eyes gleamed as he showed me a picture of his son, knowing that because of his hard work here, that the future of his son would be just that brighter. You see, his story is no different than my father’s or the families here today. The selfless act of thinking for your children, wanting a better future for them than the ones you had. I realize that we don’t necessarily have to go far to become a storyteller, because you just have to listen those around you. We have the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and the ability to see the world through their eyes. And in doing so, we give someone a voice. A voice to the voiceless.

Whether it is a Communications film that encapsulates the Syrian revolution and the true meaning of the phrase “Mshan el 7oreeya” or “For Freedom” and what it meant for a son and his mother or a journalism capstone project under the name “Sweet Epidemic” on the struggles of the Qatari people living with illness and Diabetes. What we have learned here is that stories have the power to move not only a person, but a nation. And what we do as storytellers can be controversial and hard-hitting, but the end result is that THERE IS DIALOGUE. People here may not be used to putting their problems in the spotlight but at the end of the day, they’re still talking about it. And in a city, and a region, where many are still trying to figure out their problems, the only way to achieve and grow is if we talk with one another. That is the real reason why the work we do works.

So four years have passed and in this moment, I’m taking a step back to that first question: Why Communications? Why Journalism? And the answers are no different than they were back then: So, my fellow graduates: be a story-teller. Help others. Travel the world and tell others’ stories. And be the change you want in the world, through whatever medium. Edmund Burke had once said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that when good men do nothing.” So let us use our degrees to do good things and give back to our societies, wherever they may be.

As a final note of gratitude, we remember the people who helped pave the way so that we can stand proudly today. Thank you to our deans and professors for giving us a path to our passions, though often not the easiest. To our parents for supporting, loving and trusting us in pursuing those passions, even when others doubted the significance of our work in our communities. And to those who are not with us here today, my mom included, Mama I did it! We did it. And finally to everyone who has shared our journeys with us; thank you for sharing your stories.

Class of 2013, Congratulations! Alf Mabrook!”

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