Expansion of student activities in HBKU Student Center aims to bring the EC community together


Campus Conversation session at Gloria Jeans in Student Center Photo by J. Zach Hollo

By Chantelle D’mello


Campus Conversation session at Gloria Jeans in Student CenterPhoto by J. Zach Hollo

Campus Conversations session at Gloria Jeans in Student Center
Photo by J. Zach Hollo


Tea Time, Campus Conversations, Cultivate – The Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Center is creating a new image for itself, one based on cultivating creativity and intellect versus being considered a “social hangout” spot. Since its opening in 2011, it has expanded its activities to include leadership development, health and wellness education, community events and service learning projects.


The integration of new campus activities at the student center is mostly due to the young, growing campus life staff behind it, which includes professional staff Mohammed Fakhro, Hissa Al Mohannadi, Majid Al Ali, and Evan Witt, along with students Penny Yi Wang, Ahmed Raza Hashmi, and Prince George Abraham. The team brainstorms, plans, and arranges the center’s events.


“We ask students what the issues they face everyday are, what their needs are, what they are looking for. We take that feedback and try to implement it, either in our existing programs or by creating additional activities” said Hissa Al-Mohannadi, one of the Campus Life coordinators. “We want students to feel like they can take charge, that they aren’t just on the receiving end.”


A result of the new people-based event planning system is Campus Conversations – an hour-long discussion held every week at Gloria Jean’s coffee shop at the student center, where students discuss contemporary issues.


With topics ranging from the purpose of a college education to the effect of violent revolutions’ on the world, “Conversations creates an intimate, safe space where students can “voice their opinions and learn from others,” said Ahmed Raza Hashmi, a member of the new staff team and a junior at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar.


Participation varies from event to event, with the majority of students attending major events of the academic year like Ya Hala, an annual event for freshman that showcases clubs and organizations. This year’s Ya Hala drew an unprecedented 500 students.


“It’s been growing quickly since last year”, said Mohammed Fakhro, a Campus Life officer.


Aside from community events and trips, including the upcoming trip to Nepal during spring break, the student center now offers a host of health initiatives such as yoga and Zumba.


“We are trying to build a vibrant college campus culture through our programming and communication efforts” said Yi Wang, the social media and communications coordinator for the Campus Life team and a journalism junior at Northwestern University in Qatar.


These programs serve the dual purpose of “forging relationships between students while increasing their motivation to work out, exercise, and take better care of their health,” said Devika Hastak, a junior at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar who frequents the Zumba and yoga sessions.


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