Although it’s thousands of miles from her hometown of Beirut, Lebanon, Jacksonville University has felt like home to Jana Alghoul ever since she stepped foot on campus for her freshman orientation.
Four years later, Alghoul is preparing to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering and has a job lined up as an automation and control engineer with Rivian, which recently released the market’s first electric pickup truck.
Alghoul says she’s kept her days full for the past four years, an intentional choice she made when starting at JU.
“I was my own person, a part of a community and not just a number,” Alghoul said. “I let my individuality shine and being at JU helped accomplish that. I was able to try a little, and sometimes a lot of everything that interested me. From academics, extracurriculars, and on-campus work, there were so many options to choose and try.”
Alghoul is president of the Honors Student Association, International Student Association and the Green Key Honor Society. She’s been a Resident Advisor for three years and a Community Leader within the program for two years. She can also be seen around campus giving tours to prospective students as a student ambassador.
In addition, she’s a student worker with Aramark, working across campus at Starbucks, Waves, the River House Pub, Riverview Dining Hall, catering and concessions.
“Your life in college starts outside the classroom,” Alghoul said. “You can earn a degree anywhere, but you come to college to create this four-year life and experience that will stay with you forever. That is why you should go above and beyond and experiment with all the resources available. Make the most out of it because as cliché as it sounds, these years fly, and when you look back, you’d want to have made memories to see.”
While being so far from home can be difficult at times, Alghoul said there was a support system in place for her, especially from Dean of Students Dr. Kristie Gover.
“She has helped me tremendously all throughout my time here,” Alghoul said. “Being international and away from home is one of the most challenging situations, yet she was always there to help and made me feel like there was always a hand I could reach out to whenever times were rough.”
Professors in the honors and mechanical engineering programs have been a huge help to her as well, providing Alghoul with inspiration to keep learning and going above and beyond in her studies.
Dr. Murat Tiryakioglu shared a piece of advice that stuck with Alghoul and, like the memories of her time at JU, it’s something that she’ll carry with her for life.
“(Professor of Engineering) Dr. Murat Tiryakioglu once told me that I always put higher expectations for myself than what is required and that is why I’m going to succeed in life, and since then this has been my life’s motto.”
By Katie Garwood