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Student Spotlight: Ahmed Balubaid

This is the sixth in our Student Spotlight series, where our students tell their stories in their own words.

My name is Ahmed Balubaid and I was born and raised in Dawn Valley, Hadhramout, Yemen. I have been a formal student of the Hadhramout Foundation since my childhood – both directly and indirectly. My primary and secondary schools were built by the Foundation, and I also received scholarships for my bachelor's and master’s degrees. Many of my family members and close relatives have degrees, but I was the first. Back then, my family didn’t really pay attention to education, but once I got into primary school, they were surprised when I won the top student in my class even though no one was teaching me. I guess I was lucky in that respect, because it was at this time when Sheikh Abdullah Bugshan made his first trip to Yemen. During this particular trip, he was trying to get people’s attention focused on the value of education. I won a lot of awards and prizes, and much like the other top students at school in my area, I got invited to attend a lot of the celebrations. That subsequently became the inspiration for the rest of my cousins, who started putting a lot more effort into school. Now, a lot of them, particularly my female cousins, carry high education degrees and work at large companies in the KSA.

I carry two master’s degrees, one in finance and another in enterprise risk management. I finished my last degree in December 2022. Prior to that, I did my bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering specializing in gas and petrochemicals in Malaysia at Petronas University of Technology. After graduation, I came back to Yemen in the hopes of finding a job, but unfortunately the situation did not allow. Two years later, I realized that this was not my passion, and I suddenly found myself looking for a new major that would fit my talent with numbers. After looking into all of my available options, and reading a few books in finance and economics, I found my passion in this field. I came back to Malaysia and started my Master’s degree in business administration in general management. The university at the time did not accept me coming from an engineering background and entering into finance, so they provided a conditional offer: that I must enter into general management, evaluate my performance, and then decide whether to let me shift to finance or remain in my current study. After my first semester, not only did they allow me to shift, but they gave me the option to complete my degree at the European Business School in Germany. It was then when I met Sheikh Abdullah again along with Shane Rose in Paris. There, they asked me if I would like to move to the US to continue my studies. So I came to the US and started my second master’s degree in Enterprise Risk Management at Columbia University in NYC.

Outside of my education, the hobby that I like the most is programming. Even though I have never received formal education in programming, I managed to master coding in six different languages. I have always been curious about learning new tricks. In particular, I have developed a passion for machine learning and AI. The company where I work provided us with private ChatGPT servers for security reasons, and many times, I would find myself spending hours having chats with OpenAI, sometimes out of curiosity, sometimes to train my account so that it understands my mindset and to get me the answers I am looking for in a more efficient way.

In a nutshell, if it was not for the foundation, I would still be floating in the diaspora of the unknown like the millions of people who are still suffering now due to the war in Yemen. And like anyone else, I had to float in the unknown for years, before I got lucky to land in the USA, and to find a job. I had to spend years in southeastern Asia, Europe and other countries in the Middle East, not knowing which society I would be able to fit in. It might be a nightmare to be homeless, but it is a form of parasomnia to be country-less. It is a powerful moment when you help someone, but when that help means the difference between life and death, that help takes on an immeasurable value. Helping people in war zones like Yemen, would mean not only saving their lives and giving them hope and inspiration, but also the lives of their family and loved ones when they in turn direct that help back to them.

In 5-10 years, I am most likely going to still be in the US. I still have a lot to learn, thus I need to gain as much as possible of what this country can offer me. Currently, I am working in a consulting firm. My role is to analyze situations and try to assist in making the best possible decision based on the data available. If I could be able to help Yemen, it would be to assist the decision makers in making better decisions. I am heavily involved with the financial industry, which is one sector in particular for me to help with in the future.

You can support students like Ahmed by donating to our cause. 100% of anything donated will go to support students like Ahmed, trying to improve their (and their family's) situation through hard work and education. Donate here!


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